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Introduction 7 

I The Preacher of the Old School 9 

II The Boyhood of J. P. Gwaltney 21 

III An Old Time Conversion 29 

IV Off to the War 34 

V Called of God 43 

VI J. P. Gwaltney, The Preacher 48 

VII Uncle Jay, The Aged 59 

VIII Leroy Parks Gwaltney 71 

IX His Early Ministry 85 

X L. P. Gwaltney — Preacher 91 

XI As I Remember 105 

XII Daniel Wilson Poole 117 

XIII Some Reflections of a Neighbor 126 

XIV The School of The Prophets 139 

XV A Contribution to Spiritual Christianity 149 

XVI The Great Meeting Just Ahead 160 


William Ernest Linney 


The comparatively small patch of land lying be- 
tween the Brushy Mountains and the Catawba River, 
officially designated Alexander County, North Caro- 
lina, and known far and wide as "Little Aleck", has 
probably produced a larger number of eminent men 
and women than any other plot of ground of the same 
size and population on the North American Contin- 
ent. They have gone out into all parts of the world 
and into almost every walk of life, each with a marked 
degree of success and an enviable record of service. 

It was the Hon. Romulus Z. Linney, I believe, who 
once said that the territory lying around the foot of 
the Rocky Face Mountain for five or six miles in each 
direction had given to the world a larger number of 
useful citizens than any other rural section of the same 
size on the face of the earth. 

Alexander County has long been noted for her large 
number of native preachers. Among them are found 
the names of Gwaltney, Poole, Bumgarner, Steele, 
Crouch, Davis, Thomas, York, Rowe, Bagwell, Steven- 
son, Teague, Oxford, White, Pennell, Barnes, Watts, 
Cline, Keller and many others. 

I have never been disposed to write a great deal 
and, if I were so disposed, I would probably never 
find the time. But owing to certain circumstances 
which have brought me into almost constant associa- 
tion with L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole 
and bound us together in the most sacred ties of fel- 
lowship, I have selected these three as the subject of 


8 Introduction 

this little book which must be, in the nature of the 
case, but a feeble gesture toward a true revelation of 
the character and worth of such men. 

Many people living in the county older than myself 
and far more capable will perhaps find the following 
pages a source of disappointment because many things 
of interest, known to them, have been left out. I sin- 
cerely hope, however, that I have not, through ignor- 
ance or inadvertence, detracted from the honor due 
these great servants of the people or dimmed the lus- 
ter of their brilliant careers. On the other hand it 
is hoped that many will find pleasure in perusing the 
sketch and be able to derive some benefit therefrom. 
My purpose in writing of these battle-scarred Sol- 
diers of the Cross, most of whom have stacked arms 
and gone from the field of conflict to the homeland 
of peace to be decorated for distinguished service at 
the hands of Him for whom they gave their lives in 
sacrificial service, is to preserve for future generations 
the facts contained herein, most of which must be, in 
the course of time, incorrectly remembered or entire- 
ly forgotten. 

William Ernest Linney. 


Upon hearing of the death of Hon. Champ Clark 
the Rev. Parks Gwaltney remarked that the last of the 
Old School Lawyers was gone. He was thinking, of 
course, of the lawyer of his boyhood days who by 
sheer strength of intellect and commanding power in 
the art of forensic debate could stir the mighty deeps 
and almost bring down the stars. He was thinking, 
too, of the days of long ago when his own mind and 
soul had thrilled under the moving oratory of those 
giants when they joined battle before a jury. The term 
"old school" was used to distinguish them from the pre- 
sent-day type of lawyer. 

Remarkable as has been the change in type of prac- 
ticing attorney in the past fifty years, in manner, in 
method, in zeal and fire — even in personal appearance 
— yet it may be said with truth that even a greater 
change has been wrought in the type of gospel min- 

These chapters are not designed to discuss the moot 
question of whether the change indicated above is for 
the better or worse. This, it would seem, is a matter 
of personal opinion. But the fact remains that there 
has been such a change and that it has been so radical 
and so complete that there are left very few character- 
istics in the preacher of this our day calculated to re- 
mind one of the Lord's servants of fifty years ago. 

We are not left to guess about the reality of this 


10 The School Of The Prophets 

distinction. Our sources of information about the prea- 
cher of the "Old School" are abundant. We have his 
printed sermons, his expositions of the Scriptures, his 
history, his style and method, his hopes and aims in 
countless volumes. And what is more impressive still, 
we have the record of the amazingly stupendous task 
he performed in the field of evangelism. 

As to the modern preacher we have not only his 
printed materials but we have the preacher himself. 
Moreover, our knowledge of the modern prophet is not 
limited to the narrow scope of personal contact; for 
we may sit in our homes and hear the voice of the gos- 
pel across the continent. We may hear a sermon in 
San Francisco today and another in Tampa tomorrow. 
No great amount of intellect, scholarship or inspiration 
is required to make a comparison. 

If I were called upon to choose a single word which, 
according to my ideas of things, would most nearly de- 
scribe the outstanding characteristic of the preacher of 
fifty years ago, I would select the word "power". I use 
that word as it stands over against and is contrasted 
with the word "nicety" which, I believe, would very 
well express the modern conception of achievement in 
ministerial fields. I use the word "nicety" to cover a 
multitude of sins. Perhaps the words fastidious, deli- 
cate, dainty, precise, agreeable, effeminate and in rare 
instances, silly, would serve the same purpose. 

The old school preacher believed in a literal call 
from God to the work of the gospel ministry. He did 
not place quotation marks around the word "call" as 
an apology for using it. He believed that God was the 
author of his impressions to preach and that he was 

The Preacher Of The Old School 11 

responsible to God for the manner of his response to 
his impressions. 

It is true that God's chosen servants have always 
been, as they are even today, characterized by a holy 
caution lest they be mistaken about the source of their 
impressions to preach. Someone has made the sarcas- 
tic suggestion that only those who are failures at every- 
thing else ever enter the ministry. 

But is this not the very reason why many of the 
world's greatest Christian statesmen are numbered 
with the prophets of the Lord? God has hedged them 
about with failure in other fields in order to bring them 
into their proper work. A young man studying for the 
ministry was asked by a college committee why he 
desired to enter the ministry. He answered, "Because 
all other ambitions have gone down before the revela- 
tion of life in Christ Jesus". 

Moses argued the question of his call with the Lord. 
"Lord, I am not eloquent". "Who am I, that I should 
go?" "O Lord, send, I pray thee, by thy hand of him 
thou wilt send". Isaiah could say only after the live 
coal from the altar had touched his lips, "Here am I, 
send me". Paul required a mighty shaking loose from 
his old ideas of things before he could say, "Lord, what 
wilt thou have me to do"? "I am the least of my fa- 
ther's house" is the tone of reverent protest expressing 
the deep feeling of unworthiness and unfitness among 
the servants of the Lord who have been called into his 
service. But "woe is me, if I preach not the gospel" 
is the universal expression of responsibility when once 
the burden has been shouldered. 

It was the venerable Greene Brown who said, "if 

12 The School Of The Prophets 

I had a million dollars I would use half of it hiring prea- 
chers to quit, then I would use the other half suppor- 
ting those whom I could not hire". Whether or not 
the words of the old preacher are to be taken seriously 
they are, indeed, suggestive. It is no uncommon thing 
now-a-days to read, even in the religious press, that 
the reason for the present scarcity of ministerial stu- 
dents in our colleges and seminaries is that other fields 
are offering greater rewards. 

The preacher of other days believed that God would 
be with him in the proclamation of the gospel and that 
he would carry his message to the hearts of those who 
heard him. He took the words of Jesus literally, "Go 
ye unto all the world and preach the gospel and, lo, I 
am with you always, even to the end of the world". 
He could say from his heart, as did Moses of old, "If 
thy presence go not with me, send us not up hence". 

How many Methodists of our day know that the 
great John Wesley had to learn the weakness of human 
flesh apart from the power of God by the saddest and 
most humiliating experience? After spending two 
years among the Indians and American colonists, he 
sailed back to England a sad and disappointed man be- 
cause his labors had been pitifully fruitless. He had 
come to America, perhaps, with the feeling that his 
"holy methods" and his scholastic attainments would 
be all-sufficient for the task before him. But, on his 
return to England, he wrote in his diary : 

"I went to America to convert the Indians, but O, 
who will convert me ?" 

His diary also reveals a continued self -searching as 
suggested by the following notation : 

The Preacher Of The Old School 13 

"This, then, have I learned in the ends of the earth : 
that I am fallen short of the glory of God. I want the 
faith which Paul recommended to the world, which 
enables everyone to cry out, 'I live not, but Christ liv- 
eth in me' ". 

Wesley found this faith and with it he found that 
God alone can use the weakness of men to save a lost 
world. He went to hear George Whitefield preach out 
in the open air to ten thousand people. He saw thou- 
sands of hardened sinners gathered into the kingdom 
of Christ through the efforts of this mighty man of 
God ; and Wesley began a new ministry. He became so 
enthusiastic that the formal and lifeless churches of 
England refused to allow him to occupy their pulpits, 
just as they had refused Whitefield. His zeal was in 
bad taste with a religion gone to seed. 

The difference between the scholarly Wesley, the 
self-reliant, cultured Wesley of the first American ad- 
venture, and the powerful, on-sweeping, victorious 
John Wesley of a later day is simply nothing less than 
the difference between the power of a man and the 
power of God, and can be measured only by the dif- 
ference between a sad and dismal failure and a glo- 
rious victory. Wesley learned what every soul-winning 
preacher has learned : That God cannot use a preacher 
until the preacher uses God. 

The preacher of the early days of American life 
also believed something. He had deep and abiding con- 
victions about things. We are being told today that it 
matters little what one believes. We have become so 
liberal and "broad minded" in our thinking that if a 
preacher entertains fixed convictions about even a 

14 The School Of The Prophets 

Bible doctrine he is branded as intolerant or bigoted. 
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" has no place 
in modern thinking. 

Not long ago a heart-broken father proposed this 
question to one of America's leading divines, "Is there 
any scriptural prohibition against my praying for my 
dead son?" To which the preacher replied, "I know of 
no scriptural reason why you should not pray for your 
dead son". I wondered just what his ready reply would 
have been if the question had been, "Is there any rea- 
son why I should not pray to dead saints?" 

It is possible, on the other hand, that the old school 
preacher may have been a little dogmatic and, in some 
instances, may have lacked somewhat of the benevo- 
lent and charitable spirit which should mark a man of 
God; but even so, it was due largely to his godly 
jealousy for what he believed to be the truth. He was 
never led in the direction of intolerance or persecution 
or anything remotely related to it. 

Of the two evils, that of being over zealous for what 
one believes, on the one hand, and the evil of accepting 
and swallowing anything and everything just for the 
sake of being "liberal" and agreeable on the other 
hand, let us have the first and deliver us from the last. 
If the devil should succeed in marshaling all the prea- 
chers into the ranks of the so-called "liberal" regime, 
so that everybody would believe everything and nobody 
would believe anything, he would be a greater glutton 
than he is reputed to be if he could muster up the nerve 
to ask for anything more. 

The preacher of the old school believed in the doc- 
trines of repentance and regeneration. He believed 

The Preacher Of The Old School 15 

that all accountable persons who have not accepted the 
offered means of salvation are yet in their sins and 
lost. This conviction impelled him to urge that men 
repent and turn away from sin. Repentance involved 
a godly sorrow for sin and a mighty turning away 
from it and forsaking it. The work of the Holy Spirit 
is to awaken, renew, cleanse and sanctify. He did 
not believe that one may be born again, "born of the 
Spirit", "resurrected to a newness of life" without an 
experience of grace. He did not believe that to sign 
one's name at the bottom of an evangelist's card in the 
hand of some worldly young woman would "raise him 
from the dead" any more than he contemplated the 
"decision days" in the modern church. 

The preacher of fifty years ago believed the Bible. 
And it is amazing how those men, with few books to 
read and little time in which to study, could delve so 
deep into the rich mines of divine truth, interpreting 
the mind of the Spirit as it is revealed in the Scriptures. 
Yet, if you were to leave out of modern exposition of 
the Scriptures all the modern expositor borrowed from 
those same fathers there would not be left enough to 
make a book the size of Webster's blueback and it would 
not be nearly so valuable. 

Whence came their power of interpretation? A 
good portion of the answer lies in the fact that they 
were men of one book and that book was the Bible. The 
Bible was their man of counsel. It was the last court 
of appeal in all spiritual problems as well as in all the 
problems of life. 

Another reason, undoubtedly, is that they were men 
of prayer. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask 

16 The School Of The Prophets 

of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth 
not; and it shall be given him". 

The fathers believed that the Spirit who had in- 
dicted the "matter and form" of Scripture could and 
would also interpret it. 

Again, they sought for the truth with the glory of 
God and the salvation of lost men as their object. They 
could faithfully plead that object at a throne of grace. 

For the most part the preachers of fifty years ago 
were humble men. They came before God as empty 
vessels desiring to be filled. They got enough of them- 
selves out of the way to allow God to use them. When 
they were weak, then were they strong. I venture to 
say, reverently, I trust, that the Lord himself has never 
been able to do a great deal for this old lost world 
through the labors of a preacher who is full of himself. 

Once more, the preacher of fifty years ago was a 
man of character. No man can honestly claim perfec- 
tion and, so far as I know, none of them did. But with 
the facts of history before us, there seems to be no 
doubt that, with a rare exception now and then, these 
men were immune to the glitter of gold, unafraid of 
popular censure and unaffected by popular applause. 
The hope of earthly reward was not sufficient to allure 
them from the straight path of duty, nor was the fear 
of earthly punishment enough to deter them in the pur- 
suit of righteous achievement. 

That is a wonderfully interesting piece of American 
history which records the travels and labors, the strug- 
gles and sufferings as well as the victories of the pio- 
neer preacher who rode horseback or walked, preaching 
wherever he could gather together a group of settlers ; 
sometimes sleeping with his head on his saddle and 

The Preacher Of The Old School 17 

the stars for a covering : without earthly remuneration, 
save the bread he ate, but always carrying on, always 
gaining ground, always conquering new fields and al- 
ways triumphant in the work of the Lord. 

There were giants in those days and "mighty men 
of renown" to whom we shall ever be indebted and 
whose memories we shall hold in reverence for the glo- 
rious things they did in planting the good news of sal- 
vation on every hill and in every dale in this new world. 
They possessed the apostolic spirit and labored with 
the apostolic zeal. God wonderfully honored them in 
an abundant harvest of souls for which they gave their 
lives and all that life means. 

I have ventured these observations with reference 
to the preacher of long ago in order, primarily, to ac- 
quaint the reader with the three characters about whom 
the following pages are written. J. P. and L. P. Gwalt- 
ney and Daniel Poole lived and labored under both the 
old order and the new, but in all respects, they belonged 
to the old order. Notwithstanding the fact that a major 
part of their ministry was under the new order they 
held like the needle to the pole to every redeeming ele- 
ment in the character of those romantic pioneers whose 
like we shall never see again. 

J. P. and L. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole were re- 
markable men. They grew up and entered the gospel 
ministry at a time when it was difficult to obtain an 
education because of the desolate conditions resulting 
from the Civil War. They were compelled to battle 
against the handicap of poverty through the period of 
reconstruction when the South was sweating blood in 
its struggles to recover from the bloody conflict of civil 

18 The School Of The Prophets 

But as fire is required to burn out the dross from 
the gold ; as wheat must pass through the threshing 
machine — the "tribulation" — to be separated from the 
chaff, it may be that a wise Providence has designed 
to bring out the most noble qualities in his servants 
by severe testings. At any rate these men met the 
conditions despite the times and buckled on the har- 
ness and never pulled it off again. 

It must be remembered that, even if there had been 
a desire on the part of rural churches to support their 
pastors, there was very little means with which to do 
it. These men labored in the field for a living and, in 
addition to the regular work on the farm, they studied 
the Bible, read books, prepared sermons, conducted 
funerals, held revival meetings, visited the sick and 
took a lively interest in social and civic affairs. 

But despite all obstacles these men forged ahead, 
always cheerfully facing the future, undaunted in the 
face of perplexing problems and unafraid of the ene- 
mies of righteousness. They maintained that spirit 
of meekness and humility that made them the objects 
of the fondest affection of thousands in every walk of 

Faith of our fathers living still 
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; 
O how our hearts beat high with joy 
When e'er we hear that glorious ivord. 

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, 
Were still in heart and conscience free; 
How sweet ivould be their children's fate 
If they, like them, could die for thee." 

Faith of our fathers, holy faith, 
We will be true to thee till death. 


Rev. Jay P. Gwaltney 



John Gwaltney, the first of the American family of 
which we have any knowledge, settled on Rowe's Moun- 
tain some time before the Revolutionary War. He had 
three sons, Robert, Nathan and William, known as Gai- 
ther, or Gater. 

Robert settled at what is now known as the old 
Gwaltney place, just south of the South Yadkin River, 
in Iredell County, now Alexander, five miles south of 
the Brushy Mountains. Just when he located there is 
not certainly known. The fathers kept few records of 
personal affairs and, as a consequence, much of the his- 
tory, more especially family history, is lost. 

The same charge may be laid against us of the 
present generation also, for doubtless it will be as dif- 
ficult to trace family history one hundred years hence 
as it is today. We are interested, just as they were, 
largely in the present, unmindful of the importance 
of writing things down. We just simply don't write 
and the next generation will be searching in vain for 
records that were never made. It is known, however, 
that the Gwaltneys were of Welch ancestry. 

Howell Gwaltney, the father of J. P. Gwaltney, was 
a son of Robert Gwaltney, was born, reared, and died 
on the old Gwaltney farm where Robert Gwaltney loca- 
ted. Howell Gwaltney married Elsie Hendren, second 
daughter of William Hendren, II. Their children were 
William R., Jay P., Ran, Mattie, Lou, Rena, Jane, Joe, 
and Nancy. 


22 The School Of The Prophets 

It may be of interest to the people of Wilkes and 
Alexander Counties to know that there were three Wil- 
liam Hendrens among the Hendren fathers of Western 
North Carolina. William Hendren, I, came to this 
country from Ireland in colonial days. He was an officer 
in the American army in the Revolutionary War. He 
married a Miss Taylor, moved to Rowan County, North 
Carolina, where he lived for a time, and then moved 
back to the Parker place on the headwaters of Rocky 
Creek in Wilkes County. William Hendren, II, went to 
Kentucky when a young man, but returned to North 
Carolina and married Charlotte Ellis. Their children 
were Jabez, Elsie, Annie, Jehu, John, Josiah, William, 
III, and Jessie. 

The Hendrens were noted for their honesty and 
integrity and for religious inclinations. Wherever a 
Hendren of this stock is found today there will be a 
path leading from his house to the nearest church. 
They are a sturdy stock, morally speaking, and as de- 
pendable and trustworthy a people as live on the earth. 

On the other side of the house, the Gwaltneys were 
also a religiously inclined people. They were kindly 
disposed, very neighborly and peace-loving. They were 
associated always with the work of the church and were 
actively interested in every good enterprise. I never 
heard of a Gwaltney in the toils of the law. They were 
friends to everybody and everybody were their friends. 

It is difficult for young people living in these mo- 
dern times to form a true conception of what this coun- 
try was like one hundred or more years ago. One 
hundred years ago! That does not seem long, for no 
small part of American history was already made then. 


Yet what changes have taken place! All this vast 
stretch of mountain country was standing in virgin 
forest except for the "clearings" where, here and there, 
some settler had erected a cabin and elected to live. 

There were no cities and few towns for many miles ; 
there was hardly a single convenience, as modern con- 
veniences go ; no electric light, no gasoline motor, no 
telephone, no telegraph, not a railroad in many miles, 
no farm machinery, none with which to manufacture 
clothing or shoes or tools. In fact, in so far as this 
section is concerned, there was just about exactly no- 
thing that would be considered a convenience today. 

The roads ran straight over the hills as did also 
the corn rows. Plows, hoes and knives were made in 
the blacksmith shop. Clothing was made from yarn 
spun by hand on a wheel and woven into cloth on a 
home-made loom. Food was cooked over an open fire 
in pots and "skillets" made of iron. A glass jar was 
unknown. In order to preserve food it must be pick- 
led or dried. Coffee was made by parching rye or 
wheat and sugar was as scarce as the proverbial "hen's 

Bread made from wheat flour was enjoyed by the 
average family at most only on Sunday, and among 
the poorer classes it was a luxury kept for Christ- 
mas. "Store bought" coffee and "manafac" tobacco 
stood at the top of the list of human luxuries. 

Yet, strange to say, despite the hardships of the 
times, these people were far more contented and in- 
finitely more happy than the people of today. They 
knew nothing of the nervous strain in our modern life 
in order to keep up appearances. They did not lie 

24 The School Of The Prophets 

awake all night trying to plan some way to "corner" 
the market nor did they pace the floor with nervous 
haste and sleepless eyes because there were rumors of a 
drop in the stock market. 

In those days when people lived a long ways apart, 
when roads were few and rough, when horse-back rid- 
ing was the fastest mode of travel, when doctors were 
few and there were no hospitals at all, when the mail 
came in once in the month and people walked eight 
miles to church, a neighbor was a neighbor. The near- 
est neighbors were glad to see each other and appre- 
ciated the value of neighborliness. 

In those days men possessed a high degree of honor. 
A man's word was his bond. Imagine a polling place 
where all the citizens of a certain territory came to 
cast their votes without a ballot box. They often voted 
in a hat and there was no one designated to guard even 
that. There stands a tree on a high hill in the county 
of Alexander which marks an ancient voting place. 
The fathers used to gather there at election and cast 
their votes in the "stove-pipe" hat of a certain citizen 
in that neighborhood and then go back home without 
a suspicion that their votes might not be counted. 

Perhaps the world is growing better, but I shall 
never believe that those old fathers anticipated a time 
when their own posterity would require a box car in 
which to vote if the lid were left off. 

In a certain sense times were hard in those days. 
Money was scarce and wages, if secured at all, were 
low. The process of farming was crude and slow. The 
young people went barefoot except in very cold wea- 
ther while their entire wardrobe of wearing apparel 


consisted of a one-piece garment, known in classic dic- 
tion as a shirt. 

Yet, as we have said, they were happy and con- 
tented. There are several reasons contributing to their 
contentment as well as to their health — for they seemed 
to have been strong and tough, physically. Not the 
least of the contributing causes for their happy lot was 
the fact that they lived in the open. They roamed the 
forests in search of game and followed the streams in 
quest of fish. They followed the course of the honey 
bee to the hollow tree where the dripping sweetness 
was stored and they called with the mate-call of the 
wild turkey and every crack of the long old rifle meant 
a juicy breakfast of the best meat that ever graced 
the table of any man. 

The forests abounded in game — turkey, squirrel, 
rabbit, pheasant, while the pure unchoked streams 
teemed with the finest fish. The bees made honey 
and the trained eye of the pioneer could follow his 
course right to the tree where he lived. 

Old man "Jack" Bradshaw, an old neighbor of 
mine in my childhood days, the most honest man I ever 
knew, told me that when he was a young man he 
climbed up the steep side of the "Big Mountain" just 
above his father's house one morning before day and 
sat down upon the ground with his long rifle in his 
hand. He said he sat there until he heard his mother 
call for breakfast and then he picked up twenty-two 
squirrels and wended his way homeward. 

The young people must have had a jolly time when 
they met together in the early days. They often met 
at each other's homes and sang together. They called 

26 The School Of The Prophets 

it a "singing" and many were the pleasant nights in 
the long winter months they spent at these singings. 
"Log rollings" and corn shuckings were also occasions 
of enjoyment as well as of hard work. It was here 
the young man could demonstrate his physical powers 
in lifting the greatest load. At the corn shucking the 
young people would divide the corn pile in the middle, 
choose the shuckers and race to see which side would 
get done first. Often they raced to see who found the 
largest number of red ears of corn. And, last, but 
not least, when it was done, they filed to the farmer's 
house where hot coffee, chicken dumplings and pump- 
kin pie were served in the old fashioned way. 

It was under conditions like this that J. P. Gwalt- 
ney grew up. He knew how to do a hard day's work, 
learned to shoot squirrel and turkey, wore home-spun 
clothes and home-made shoes and a hat made of straw. 
He delighted to read whatever he could find and early 
in life formed the habit of church attendance. He 
grew up under conditions that actually did produce 
men of stalwart, though rugged, character. Like the 
hills among which they lived they were dependable, 
constant and towering in character and life. 

As a boy Jay Gwaltney attended the free public 
schools of two or three months in the year, studying 
the old blue-back speller along with some arithmetic. 
There was a good school at Sulphur Springs which he 
attended and later entered the Taylorsville Collegiate 
Institute, studying there until the outbreak of the war 
of 1861. 

When the call was made for volunteers, he enlisted 
in the army, as related in another chapter of this book 


and, after the war was over, returned home to rebuild 
his distressed and all but depopulated community. Thus 
it will be seen that his educational advantages were 
somewhat curtailed, although he made excellent use 
of his opportunities and advanced beyond the average 
of his day. 

As a boy and young man Jay Gwaltney was never 
what we term a bad fellow, although I would not have 
anyone believe that he was a sanctimonious anchoret. 
Quite to the contrary he was as full of life and vigor 
as a young man can well be. He liked very much to 
attend the neighborhood singing and, by the way, he 
had a deep, smooth and mellow bass voice which never 
grew rasping or grating until he was a very old man. 
He liked to meet with the young people in their social 
gatherings and there never could be a dull moment in 
any company where he was. 

He enjoyed the chase as heartily as ever a man 
did. His love for the "music of the hounds" never for- 
sook him. He used to tell of the races of the long ago 
and his eyes would sparkle as he thought of the crying 
hounds and the old friends who followed them whom 
he would never see again here below. 

But notwithstanding his love of fun Jay Gwaltney 
had been brought up with certain inherent principles 
which he never violated. One of these was respect for 
old age. He liked to listen to the conversation of old 
people and entered heartily into the spirit of sympathy 
and interest. 

Some of the most impressive sermons of his life 
were spiced and enlivened by relating the experiences 
and sayings of old people to whom he had respectfully 

28 The School Of The Prophets 

listened when a child. He never carried a joke to the 
point of personal injury and was a true sportsman in 
being able to take as well as to give. 

Somewhere in this book it is stated that J. P. Gwalt- 
ney could beat a negro at his own game in the fluent 
use of Southern negro dialect. It may be said with 
equal truth that he was a past master in the fine art 
of stage performance. The following incident will 
serve to illustrate his ability to amuse and entertain 
an audience. 

It was at the close of the school at Sulphur Springs. 
Great preparation had Iteen made for the commence- 
ment exercises. Jay had been selected to act the part 
of a gentleman of color and had rehearsed his part to 
the point of perfection. A large wooden structure to 
serve as a platform had been erected on the outside of 
the building where the crowd would assemble in the 
open space in front, where seats had been placed for 
the purpose. The people came from far and wide. All 
the seats had been taken before the exercise began and 
many were standing. They were expecting great 
things and were not disappointed. 

When the stage was set and the curtain raised, 
a tall, sprightly negro in long black coat and shiny 
shoes stepped briskly to the front and began to "elu- 
cidate" an address that never had a natural ending. 
For the crowd began yelling and surging forward, 
climbing upon the stage and around this negro preach- 
er until, under the weight of so many people, the stage 
collapsed, coming down with a crash and brought with 
it the crowd that was on it, the speaker and the fix- 
tures. Thus ended Act No. 1, Scene 1. The commence- 


merit ended until the debris could be removed and the 
space cleared for further performance. 

In another chapter it will be seen that Jay Gwalt- 
ney was converted at the age of fifteen ; that he never 
entered the ministry until he was thirty-three years 
old, there being a period of eighteen years between his 
conversion and his ordination — from 1855 to 1873. But 
during all this time he had wrestled with the growing 
impression to preach. Even in his most jolly moods of 
merry-making there had been an undercurrent of most 
solemn self-searching. During his service in the army 
these impressions never left him whether on the bat- 
tlefield or around the camp fire. He related in after 
years how, while the missiles of death were filling the 
air all around him and men were falling on the right 
and left, the words of the Psalmist would come to him 
with the roar of the cannon and the rattle of the mus- 
ketry, "a thousand shall fall at thy left side and ten 
thousand at thy right hand ; but it shall not come nigh 
unto thee". Is it a great wonder that as long as he 
lived he believed that a man is immortal till his work 
is done? 



Bethel Baptist church in Alexander was once a 
noted place for great assemblies, especially during the 
revival season in August of each year. In the olden 
days people living at a distance would bring bedding 
and provision for a week's stay and tent in small, one- 
room houses built for the purpose and live comfortably. 
The church being too small to accommodate the people 

30 The School Of The Prophets 

a larger arbor was erected for use in hot weather. 

The church was a sort of social center, there being 
few places of public attraction elsewhere. This was 
true, not because the fathers understood the church to 
be a social organization, as it seems to be understood in 
some quarters today, for they were very much alive 
to the spiritual nature and purpose of the church; 
but the people living miles apart and seeing each other 
only once in a long time were really glad to meet and 
to greet each other and an opportunity was offered 
for the gratification of that very natural desire to 
talk and talk and talk. No people ever found more 
satisfaction or derived more pleasure from the social 
side of these gatherings than they. 

In speaking of those old days one who has ever 
lived in Alexander County is reminded of the old Me- 
thodist campground at Rocky Springs where there was 
a great arbor in the center of the spacious grounds with 
two rows of tents all the way around. The large old- 
fashioned church stood within the inclosure with its 
tall pulpit and its cushioned "preacher's lounge". It 
was no uncommon thing for people to gather there in 
such large numbers that there was not room enough 
in the arbor and so a second service would be held in 
the church. I have stood on the grounds there when 
a boy and heard two preachers speaking with all their 
might and main at the same time not much more than 
thirty yards from each other. 

It was at the August meeting in 1855, at Bethel, the 
preacher was Rev. Gilson Bryant, a man about whom 
I have been able to learn very little, nor have I any 
knowledge of what he used that day for a text. The 


message reached the ear of J. P. Gwaltney, then only 
fifteen years old, and he immediately, upon the invita- 
tion, presented himself at the "mourner's bench" as an 
object of prayer. The spirit was moving mightily 
upon the hearts of sinners and many were being saved. 
Jay became so intensely concerned that he prostrated 
himself upon the straw which was used as a carpet on 
the dirt floor of the arbor and to quote his own words 
as I have heard him relate it, "I became so deeply con- 
victed for sin that the black clouds of Divine justice 
shut me in. I saw myself lost and ruined and helpless. 
My sins, rolled up before me like a great mountain and 
I could almost feel myself slipping off into eternal 

For a long time he lay there and wrestled with the 
most momentous question ever yet propounded in this 
world. He realized that there was nothing within his 
own power upon which he could depend. He realized 
that all his good works, all his prayers, all the pray- 
ers of his friends and loved ones and every other earth- 
ly thing were without avail in so far as merit is con- 
cerned. His main difficulty lay in his inability to 
believe that God would, for Christ's sake, pardon and 
save a sinner upon the simple terms of a complete sur- 
render of his will to the will of Christ. But let him 
tell us how the light broke in : 

"The choir was singing, 'Save Mighty Lord' and 
as they repeated the refrain, 'Let a repenting rebel 
live, save mighty Lord' the sunlight of God's pardoning 
grace burst in upon me, and joy unspeakable and that 
fadeth not away floodeth my soul. When I arose from 
the ground I felt as one walking on the air. The very 
trees about the place were radiant with light. The 

32 The School Of The Prophets 

old campground seemed transformed Into a Paradise 
of beauty. How heavenly were the songs of Zion and 
how sweet the voices of the saints ! The wrinkled, tear- 
stained faces of the old saints who gathered around 
me were as the faces of the angels. My soul was re- 
joicing in the knowledge of pardoned sins". 

There are those among us today who feel that a 
conversion like that of Jay Gwaltney was an hallucin- 
ation ; that it was fanciful and not real ; that it is purely 
a play upon a highly wrought emotional nature. But 
when it is recalled that J. P. Gwaltney was not a high- 
ly emotional man and that in his most quiet and com- 
posed moments that conversion was just as vivid and 
just as real to him as any other act or experience of 
his life, and that when he came down to the end of 
life's way he was still triumphantly trusting in the 
Christ he found that day, I, for my part, am compelled 
to believe that there was nothing unreal or imaginary 
about it. Let it not be forgotten that animal excit- 
ment is one thing and that a pungent, soul-searching 
conviction of sin is another thing, altogether. 

There is a story, often repeated, of a slave owner 
who said to his servant, "Aleck, I am convinced that 
all this ado people make about religion is nothing but 
bosh. There is absolutely nothing to a heart-felt re- 
ligion that I know of". To which the old negro replied 
"At's right, Mass-a, dar ain't no sich thing as heart- 
felt 'ligion dat you knows of". 

If only men could behold sin in all its horrid pro- 
portions and aspects, in its blighting, blasting and dam- 
ning influence upon the life and souls of men, and 
could know how God hates sin in every form and in 


every person, whether it be in the beggar in his hovel 
or the king on his throne ; if only men could know the 
penalty attached to sin and could realize the fright- 
ful price that must be paid for indulging in it and 
know the price that God has paid to redeem men from 
it, surely men would be stirred to the very deepest 
depths when they realize sin in themselves. If a reali- 
zation such as this would not arouse the emotional 
nature in men it would be hard to conceive of anything 
in this world that would. 

Moreover, if the old time conviction and conver- 
sion was not real, but a fanciful play upon the emotions 
only, it should still be the burden of the prayer of 
every Christian that God would send this generation 
a season of highly fanciful and imaginary revival. For 
up from those beds of straw where strong men have 
lain prostrate before God and lifted up their voices 
in suppliant cry for mercy, have come the very salt of 
the earth and the light of the world. I hereby chal- 
lenge the whole wide world with its ceremonial and 
catechismal methods of induction into the church along 
with the modern methods of evangelism which includes 
neither, to point out a more substantial, dependable, 
honorable and spiritual group of citizens than that 
produced under the methods of evangelism of fifty 
years ago ! 

Gwaltney liked to tell of his conversion. He would 
often appeal to seekers by relating his own experience 
with the hope of leading them to the light as he had 
found it in the long ago. Paul liked to go back to the 
old Damascus road and live over again those stirring 
moments when first he met the Lord. When he was 
called to stand before kings and governors to defend 

34 The School Of The Prophets 

the faith that was in him he began with that experi- 
ence as the bed-rock of all his hope and faith. Not 
that he went back there to "lay again the foundation of 
repentance from dead works" but as Clarence Dixon 
once said, "We leave the foundation when we build a 
house but we never forsake the foundation". 

I trust I shall be pardoned for closing this chapter 
with a very personal and very pointed question. If 
ripe old saints like J. P. Gwaltney who have walked 
with the Lord, men and women who have added grace 
to grace and experience to experience, so delighted to 
go back to their "Bethel" as did Jacob of old and say, 
"Surely this is the house of God and the gate of heav- 
en", what comfort in this world, or in contemplation 
of the one to come, can there be for him who knows 
no "Bethel", no place or time or experience. Can we 
say, "O happy day, that fixed my choice on Thee my 
Saviour and my God". Or can we say with the poet, 

"0 sacred hour, O hallowed spot 

Where Love Divine first found me; 
Wherever falls my distant lot 
My heart shall linger 'round thee. 
And when from earth I rise to soar 
Up to my home in heaven 
Down will I cast my eye once more 
Where I was first forgiven". 


The records show that J. P. Gwaltney enlisted in the 
army of the Southern Confederacy as a volunteer in 
the month of May, 1861, under the command of Major 


General A. P. Hill, Lane's Brigade, Seventh North 
Carolina Regiment under Col. Reuben Campbell ; Com- 
pany A. under Captain June Hill. Thus it is seen that 
he was among the first to answer the call to arms 
when war was declared between the North and the 

He was only twenty-one years old but tall and 
strong and, withal a jolly good fellow. His jovial, 
friendly disposition made him a popular soldier and 
stood him in good stead among the boys in gray in the 
long struggle of the 60's while marching and camping 
and fighting in a country new and strange. 

He could mimic to perfection anyone whom he had 
ever known and when it came to the negro dialect he 
could beat any Southern negro who ever lived. He 
loved a joke or a good yarn and was a fine spirit from 
the standpoint of sportsmanship. Many interesting 
incidents are related of his merry-making while in the 
army. However, one must not form the opinion that 
he was of such a frivolous nature as to mar his vision 
of the stern and serious realities of life. Rather he 
was one of those rare spirits whose nature it was to 
laugh, and to make others laugh, rather than pine or 
brood over conditions which he could not control. This 
buoyant disposition and cheerful nature was of great 
value to him, and to hundreds of others around many 
a faraway campfire and upon many a weary march. 

Sometimes he would gather a group of soldiers 
around him and address them as a candidate for office 
— for the Presidency, perhaps, setting forth his claim 
upon them for their support in the coming election, 
using the most extravagant, absurd and sometimes 

36 The School Of The Prophets 

ridiculous phraseology to establish his claims and to 
assure them of his fidelity. Sometimes he would im- 
personate some colored preacher whom he had known 
and give the soldiers a demonstration of Southern col- 
ored pulpit oratory. But whether he was a politician 
or a colored preacher he was. so original and did his 
act with such grace and skill and did it so naturally 
that the camp would roar with laughter. 

It was his love of fun that won for him the name 
of "Keaton", a name which he never shook off as long 
as he lived and never will as long as there is a Con- 
federate soldier living who knew him. It came about 
in this way: There lived in this country a rich slave 
trader by the name of Silas Keaton, a tall, dignified 
man of commanding appearance. He wore a long over- 
coat of fine quality which, in cold weather, he would 
button closely about him adding to his portly appear- 
ance. Of course all the young fellows would look up- 
on a man of Keaton's build with admiration and would 
reckon him as the standard of excellence in comparing 
their claims to manhood. 

It so happened that on one occasion the War De- 
partment gave out overcoats to the soldiers. Each 
soldier gladly received his coat and when Jay Gwalt- 
ney drew his he put it on and, buttoning it close around 
him, straightened up to his full height, walked out in 
front and said, "Gentlemen, this is Keaton". 

Jay Gwaltney used to tell of a soldier in the army 
who was given up to be the most homely, scrawny in- 
dividual to be found in the army, but he was a wit, 
especially when the moving forces of a little toddy got 
into action. Once upon a time the soldiers were given 


a small bottle of brandy each, to be carried in the 
knapsack for cases of necessity. But this little man 
drank all of his at one gulp and soon began to feel both 
great and rich. 

The soldiers were lounging about the camp, ready 
for any sort of amusement, when suddenly he arose 
and faced the camp and addressed the soldiers as fol- 
lows : "Gentlemen, and fellow-soldiers, I desire to make 
a few remarks and, first of all, I wish to say that I am 
the best man in this camp and, secondly, I wish to say 
that I am the bravest man in Lee's army and, last but 
not least, I wish to say that I am the prettiest man in 
the Southern Confederacy". 

There lived in Alexander County a man of almost 
miniature proportions by the name of Harve Conolly. 
I have known Harve all my life and I am quite sure 
he was, in many respects, the most remarkable man I 
have ever known. For one thing he was as tough, phy- 
sically, as a black-jack and could endure enough ex- 
posure and suffering to kill any ordinary man. For 
another thing, he never got excited, no matter what 
was happening. He remained perfectly cool and col- 
lected and could talk as quietly and deliberately as the 
judge on the bench when everyone else about him was 
in a furor. He lived to be very old, probably ninety 
or more, and retained his mental resources to a re- 
markable degree down to the very end. 

Little Harve Conolly was as brave a soldier as ever 
shouldered a gun. He was never very well trained, 
however, for the reason that he would not allow the 
officers to dictate to him how he should march or car- 
ry a gun. And, despite all that could be said or done, 

38 The School Of The Prophets 

he carried his gun on his shoulder and neither remon- 
stration nor threat would bring it down, until he got 
good and ready to take it down of his own free volition. 

Jay Gwaltney was in the same company with Harve. 
They often fought side by side and as they fought, 
conversed about anything they chose as long as they 
could hear each other above the roar of battle. 

It happened one day while fighting in a battle that 
they agreed to wait, one for the other, when the load 
was placed in the gun, and shoot at the same time. 
Once Jay succeeded in loading first and jokingly re- 
minded Harve that he had beaten him that time, where- 
upon Harve dryly retorted, "Well, dang it all, won't 
you give a fellow time to get a chaw of tobacco?" He 
had delayed in loading his gun while he fished in his 
pockets for the tobacco. 

Jay Gwaltney used to tell of Harve's bravery and 
how he seemed to be positively without fear. He re- 
lated the following incident as an example : The South- 
ern army and Northern forces were fighting one day 
in a wooded district in the state of Virginia. The 
enemy was sheltered somewhat by the forest and was 
doing deadly work from that vantage point. Harve 
felt that his comrades needed encouragement. He be- 
came terribly angry at seeing his fellow soldiers fall- 
ing by his side and so, in a loud clear voice he admon- 
ished his fellows thus : "Rally to the colors, boys, rally 
to the colors ! Take your time, soldiers, don't waste 
your powder. Aim, take aim! Shoot straight just like 
you were hunting squirrels on Lunn's Mountain". 
(Lunn's Mountain was a spur of Asbury's Mountain in 
Alexander County, a place noted for squirrels.) 


One night away out in the hills just before the bat- 
tle of Gettysburg the soldiers were sitting around the 
campfire talking of the probable outcome of the war. 
Some expressed the hope that the war would soon come 
to an end; others were less hopeful. Harve Conolly 
said, "Fellows, I wish to the Lord we could settle this 
thing tonight. I wish we could meet the enemy and 
fight it out to the last man. If I am going to be killed 
I want to be killed and have it over with ; but if I am 
to go home I want to go home. I am tired of this eter- 
nal dragging over the face of the earth". And every 
soldier there knew very well that Little Harve meant 
exactly what he said. 

After the close of the war robbers raided out from 
Fort Hamby in Wilkes County and did a great deal of 
plundering and killed several people. A group of sol- 
diers attacked the fort and fought a fierce battle with 
them in which two more lost their lives. L. Parks 
Gwaltney, then little more than a boy, was with the 
soldiers on the hill overlooking the fort. He relates 
the following incident relative to this queer little man, 
Harve Conolly. He was standing on a hill looking over 
at the fort when Harve came up and, looking also across 
to the fort, said in a quiet voice almost unearthly in its 
pathos, "Lord God, I would almost give my interest in 
heaven for a cannon". 

This little book is a biography, not a history of the 
people of Alexander County; but I have felt impelled 
to honor the memory of Harve Conolly by a statement 
of the facts herein. Soon these noble characters will 
have been forgotten who fought as no other soldiers 
have ever fought in this world for a cause they believed 
to be just. If there could be a true and impartial story 

40 The School Of The Prophets 

written on many another man and woman who have 
lived in the little county it would read like a fairy tale. 

The purest Anglo-Saxon blood in the most inspir- 
ing environment, at the most auspicious period in 
American history, is the background, the original 
cause, for the most intrepid, adventurous, romantic 
and highly honorable citizenship that ever graced an 
age or a country. 

J. P. Gwaltney was twice captured in the course of 
the war. First he was captured in a battle around 
Hanover Junction and carried over the Yankee line, 
but was soon set free in an exchange of prisoners. 

He rejoined his comrades and followed the flag over 
the fields of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and 
took part in the struggle around Gettysburg, at which 
place he was captured again and carried to Ft. Dela- 
ware where he was kept three months and from there 
he was taken to Governor's Island, New York, where 
he remained till the close of the war. 

It was on Governor's Island where he was taken 
sick with some lingering and seemingly incurable 
malady, induced largely by the use of tainted food 
and exposure. Here in order to escape death from 
this wasting disease he took the oath of allegiance to 
the Union and, after the close of the war when he was 
well again, he was sent out to the Canadian border to 
guard the Indians. 

It was while he lay sick in the prison he wrote 
the following lines which give us an insight into the 
feelings of a young man far from home, among strang- 
ers and enemies with little hope of ever seeing home 
or loved ones again. 


/ left my father, mother dear 
And to the war did go 
I left my friends, relations all 
To fight the invading foe. 

But what is worse for soldiers yet 
It grieves my heart to know 
The sorrow, trouble and regret 
When captured by the foe. 

Upon an island of the sea 
I am confined to stay — 
Not one is here to comfort me; 
Not one to sing and pray. 

But alas, my hopes all bright 
Were all at once made dim; 
The fever in its angry might 
Is felt in every limb. 

No mother here to pray for me, 
No father to console; 
No sister dear to comfort me, 
No brother to behold. 

O Lord, a father to me be 

0, save me or I die 

Thy mercies Lord, are large and free 

O, send them from on high. 

Methinks I hear some lonely sound 
A fervent prayer for me. 
In thunder tones it speaks aloud 
"My mother's on her knee". 

42 The School Of The Prophets 

/ know my friends do wonder where 
And ofttimes think I'm dead 
It causes them to suffer fear 
And many tears to shed. 

O Lord, My God, how can I stay 

Beneath this hostile sky? 
My friends are all so far away 
And surely I shall die. 

But Lord, if Thou wilt let me live 
And raise me up again 
My heart to thee I'm bound to give 
And glorify thy name. 

Young men who are prisoners, too 

hear what I shall say: 
Remember Christ has died for you 
And him you must obey. 

1 know, young men, that you are brave, 
But you and I must fall 

The strong and weak must fill the grave 
For God will humble all. 

My felloiv-soldiers near me, hear! 
Who faced the cannon's mouth 
And fearlessly performed your part 
To save the sunny South. 

I bid you all go on in haste 
Your flag in triumph wave 
The South shall be a home at last 
For the gallant and the brave. 



When the Civil War closed and the ragged remnant 
of Southern soldiers returned home they were confront- 
ed on every hand with poverty and distress. There was 
scarcely anything to eat, horses and cattle had been 
driven away, the land was depleted, Confederate money 
was worthless and silver and gold were unknown quan- 

As a suggestion of how hard the people fared, 
there lived on the head waters of Rocky Creek in Alex- 
ander County a young man who had fought through 
the four years of conflict, had been wounded and re- 
turned home to try to make a living on the farm. He 
managed to secure enough corn to plant and a little to 
eat; but where to find meat or anything else he did 
not know. 

He solved the problem in the following way: he 
made a fish basket of splits, placed it in Rocky Creek, 
baked corn cakes and visited the fish trap daily for 
the catch which, as luck would have it, almost always 
proved to be enough for the daily need. He turned 
his horse loose at night to eat grass and thus he man- 
aged to pull through till the crop was harvested. Prac- 
tically every family in Alexander County of the poor- 
er classes were compelled to resort to some such means 
of a livelihood for the first few years after the war. 

Let me say here, for the encouragement of some- 
one who may be fighting against the odds of poverty, 
that this young man studied law, was s.oon enjoying 
a fine practice and rose to national fame in after years. 

44 The School Of The Prophets 

J. P. Gwaltney came home from the war and mar- 
ried Miss Nannie Milholland, a daughter of Thomas 
Milholland, and began housekeeping at the Solomon 
Davis place near Bethel church. Here they man- 
aged to outwit the old Colonel Starvation until a crop 
was raised and the fires of Reconstruction had burned 
out. They had managed well and seemed to be on the 
road to plenty, were living happily and hopefully. But 
this happy home life, always a most tender memory 
in the years to come, was destined to a short dura- 
tion ; for the young wife died and left him lonely, des- 
pondent and dejected. 

We are told that fire is required to burn out the 
dross from the gold ; that behind every crown there 
is a cross. It is a rather peculiar fact, but a fact, 
nevertheless, that tens of thousands of young men and 
women have grown up in the midst of plenty, even in 
luxury only to throw their opportunities to the winds 
and live a life of failure and die in obscurity ; while 
tens of thousands of others have come up from the very 
depths of want to bless the world with lives of service 
and to write their names high on the pages of fame. 

Moses was born a slave and herded sheep on the 
plains of Midian for forty years. Joseph was sold in- 
to slavery and finally landed in jail. Job lost all he 
had in the world and sat in ashes, covered with sores. 
David came from the fields where he attended his fa- 
ther's sheep to be anointed King of Israel. Ruth came 
afoot and empty handed from a strange land and 
gleaned in the fields of Boaz to get bread to eat. Gid- 
eon was threshing wheat and hiding it from the ma- 
rauding bands of Midianites when he was called by 


an angel of the Lord. Elisha was. plowing in the field 
with oxen when the mantle of Elijah was laid upon 
him. So it has ever been and so it will probably ever 

Jay Gwaltney had felt for a long time, probably 
since his conversion, that there was work for him to do 
of a more public nature than teaching in Sunday School 
or talking in prayer meeting. This impression grew 
upon him with the years, but it was hard for him to 
face the question squarely and commit himself to the 
will of God in so solemn and responsible a matter as 
that of preaching the gospel. He could not convince 
himself that the Lord would so honor him, a man with 
limited education and, as he felt, of ordinary ability. 

But, as Parks Gwaltney once said, "When the Lord 
calls a man to preach he also calls someone to tell him 
about it", so it happened. The brethren were also im- 
pressed that Gwaltney should preach and finally per- 
suaded him to go with them to a meeting at Poplar 
Springs and there he launched out on his initial ef- 
fort in the pulpit. 

There was a large crowd to hear him, including a 
number of preachers. He read the text, "Behold, I 
stand at the door and knock", and then "thrust out 
into the deep". He had a hard pull, but he made the 
landing and from then on (1870) he never looked 
back until he had rounded out a career of nearly six- 
ty years as powerful as it was greatly blessed in the 
transformation of thousands of lives. 

He continued to preach wherever opportunity af- 
forded, but it was three years before he could make 
up his mind to allow the brethren to ordain him to 

46 The School Of The Prophets 

the full work of the ministry. He had already been call- 
el to the pastorate of a church or two and so he finally 
decided to be ordained. 

Accordingly, in October, 1873, the following breth- 
ren met at Sulphur Springs, formed a presbytery, 
were accepted of the church and proceeded to ordain 
him to the work : L. P. Gwaltney, J. H. Booth, W. A. 
Poole, Robert Steele and I. W. Thomas. Was not that 
an array of eminent Baptist divines? I doubt if there 
could be assembled from any rural neighborhood on 
the American continent a group of preachers, its own 
production and talent, as intellectual, as scholarly and 
as able as the group that met that day at the little 
country church and laid their hands on this young 

Gays Chapel has. the distinction of being the first 
church to extend him a call to serve as pastor. The 
church at Pleasant Hill (Blackoak Ridge) was the 
second. Among the churches served by him during 
the course of his ministry are the following: Dudley 
Shoals, Walnut Grove, Mt. Olive, Little River, Pil- 
grim, Damascus, Bethel, Bethany, Oak Forest, Holly 
Springs, Zion, Taylor Springs, Prospect, Linney's 
Grove, Wilkesboro, South River, and perhaps others. 

Whoever has been blessed with the things of this 
world and has had the sense and the grace to use 
it for the advancement of human happiness deserves the 
hearty commendation of all people ; but whoever has 
actually battled against poverty and obscurity and has 
fitted himself for a life of usefulness in spite of these 
handicaps and has given all he has and is to be laid on 
the altar of service, deserves the profoundest gratitude 
of all mankind. 


I am persuaded that the people of Alexander County 
and the surrounding country do appreciate the unsel- 
fish and loving spirit which prompted J. P. Gwaltney 
to give them freely the best that was possible for him 
to give. Jay was a friend indeed to those who were in 
need, and no night was too dark or road too rough for 
him when he could go to comfort those who were in 
distress or to help a sinner find a Saviour. 

Jay Gwaltney never stopped to ask if men were rich 
or poor, good or bad; he had only to know that some 
soul, made in the stamp and image of God, had need 
of him, and with all the affection of a beneficent nature 
and with all the earnestness of a man on business for 
the King he was ready to spend and to be spent in His 

After he fully and definitely surrendered his will 
to the will of Him who had brought him safely through 
the perils of war and raised him again from a bed of 
affliction, he burned all the bridges behind him. If he 
ever faltered in the face of trying ordeals, or, having 
put his hand to the plow, looked back, no one ever 
knew of it but him. He was always facing the sun, 
always hopeful, cheerful, zealous. And somehow, not- 
withstanding the limited and sometimes negligible re- 
muneration allowed him by the churches, he always had 
a living. 

Jesus said to his disciples, "Behold, I send you forth 
as lambs among wolves". Parks Gwaltney used to say 
that meant, "I will not only send you out among the 
wolves but I will protect you from their teeth and, what 
is more, I will make them feed you". It seems that the 
servants of the Lord who have trusted Him for the 

48 The School Of The Prophets 

temporal things of life as well as for spiritual guid- 
ance have always had bread to eat. 

There lived in the northern corner of Alexander 
County an old Baptist preacher who owned a good farm 
and always made plenty of wheat and corn and meat 
for the year. But when he got ready to start out into 
the revival season each year his wife would bemoan his 
going in language like this : "I do not see how you can 
go at this time of the year when there is so much that 
ought to be done. You will be gone for weeks and 
everything will be gone to pieces when you come back. 
We will simply starve to death — next year". She had 
to say "next year" because the crib was full of corn 
and there was meat to sell, and wheat aplenty to sup- 
ply their needs this year. 



There is no such thing, I think, as class distinction 
or gradations in the gospel ministry in the sense of 
superior or inferior ranks, or orders. Certainly there 
is no such thing taught in the New Testament. Jesus 
and his immediate followers never contemplated such 
a distinction, or if so, they never once even remotely 
intimated such a thing. The fact is that, so far as the 
example set by the Apostolic Church is concerned, it 
is difficult to distinguish between the ministry and 
the laity. Just as the presumptuous claim of Popery 
is a hideous blasphemy, so is the arbitrary grading 
of the ministry into cardinals, bishops, priests and 
whatnots a travesty upon the New Testament Scrip- 


There is, however, a distinction of another sort. 
Jesus authorized this distinction when he said, "Who- 
soever will be great among you let him be your minis- 
ter (attendant or body-guard), and whosoever will be 
chief among you let him be your servant (bond- 
slave)". According to Jesus then, a man is. great or 
small according to the amount and quality of service 
he renders. 

There never was and never can be any other Scrip- 
tural authority for class distinction in the gospel min- 
istry. It will be difficult, therefore, for us to deter- 
mine who is the greatest among the prophets of the 
Lord ; for we shall never know who has rendered the 
most valuable service to the world until we shall all 
gather around the great white throne. 

With the above understanding of the term "class" 
or "rank" I shall be permitted to divide all the preach- 
ers whom I have ever known into four groups which 
are described as follows : 

First, that class of preachers who have failed to 
grow for lack of application. They have never learned 
to study, have never kept their minds in training and 
as a consequence they have never grown an inch, intel- 
lectually, since the day they were ordained. If you 
have heard them once it is enough; they will preach 
that same sermon every time regardless of the text 
employed. I do not mean to belittle these brethren. 
Probably a greater number of us belong to this class 
than even we ourselves have ever suspected. And what 
is more, God has often used them greatly for His 

Then there is that high voltage, domineering, ego- 
tistical, self-seeking, self-sufficent prognosticator who 

50 The School Of The Prophets 

firmly believes that wisdom will die with him and, 
like the Pharisee, thanks God that he is not as other 
men. He looks down from his lofty position of imagi- 
nary glory with sarcastic contempt, mingled with af- 
fected pity and marvels greatly that the Good Lord 
ever suffered the rest of mankind to be so infinitesi- 
mally ignominious. 

This brother has inhaled or, it may be, absorbed, 
the sermonic output of some kindred spirit and with 
great pomp and splendor, as terrible as an army with 
banners, he palms it off upon a credulous public as 
his own. Yet, brethren, take courage, there are not a 
great many of them and there is always hope as long 
as there is breath ; and there is plenty of breath. 

In the third place, there is that nice, precise, scho- 
lastic pulpit lecturer. He is careful with his dress, his 
position in the pulpit, including which angle his toes 
form. He must have his discourse carefully written 
out in manuscript which he deftly turns, leaf by leaf, 
as each is finished. He leaves off no jot or tittle and, 
without modulation of voice or change of expression 
he proves to the enemy lines, beyond the shadow of a 
doubt, two or three propositions, neither of which 
would make a whit of difference to this old lost and 
ruined world whether it were true or untrue. 

He, it is, around whom the first ladies in silken 
gowns and faces wreathed in powder and smiles, ga- 
ther to lavish praise upon the discourse, none at all 
of which they have understood. No congregation should 
find cause to fault him, for he will allow them to 
glide peacefully and supinely down the placid stream 
to the very jumping-off place, sleeping sweetly as they 


And, fourth, the preacher who has realized that he 
is only one of the several billion of the earth's popula- 
tion and that if he is to accomplish anything of value 
in this life he must work. He is never satisfied with a 
make-believe — a sham. He is humble enough to know 
that, within his own strength, he will be a failure and 
so he gives God a chance to use him. Paul expresses 
the feeling of every God-called preacher when he says, 
"I am made all things to all men that I might by all 
means save some". "Woe is me, if I preach not the 

I would not undervalue the training offered by the 
university and the seminary. Surely every man who 
yearns to preach and feels that he is divinely set apart 
for the work of the ministry will make the best pos- 
sible use of his time and talent. He will go to college 
if he can and will secure the splendid training offered 
at the seminary if he can and, in fact, he will be a 
faithful and zealous student all his life long. 

But somehow I have never been able to share the 
conviction with most of the educational specialists that 
God is entirely dependent upon the colleges and semi- 
naries for carrying out His plan of offering to the 
world salvation through Jesus Christ by the mouth of 
His chosen ambassadors. Neither am I able to agree 
with those who believe that, because a man has not 
had these advantages, he is, therefore, a failure. 

Not many years ago I was in conversation with 
a group of men who were seeking a pastor for their 
small-town church. They said, in substance, "We would 
not consider a man who is not a D. D. [whatever that 
is] . We want a young man who is a good mixer [what- 

52 The School Of The Prophets 

ever that is] a good organizer [I am not sure what 
that is] and a good collector". All of us. know what 
that is. But not one word was said about such little 
unimportant matters as character, spirituality, ability 
to preach, or any other of the minor traits and qualifi- 
cations of a preacher. These brethren are not so much 
to blame after all, for they had followed the line 
marked out for them by popular religious teaching. 

These good brethren had been fed on stock phrases 
from our top-heavy educational departments and from 
the religious platform until they had entirely lost sight 
of the mission of their church and the business of a 
preacher. The amusing thing in it all was the fact 
that not one of them was a high school graduate and 
they were all so recently from the farm that their gar- 
ments still smelled with new-mown hay and the black- 
berry stain was still on their fingers. But they knew 
one thing : they were members of a town church which 
must keep "in the swim". 

What if the British Government should adopt the 
philosophy of these brethren in assembling material 
for the Parliament? What if our own great country 
should only require that the members of that august 
body, the Supreme Court, should be "good mixers." 
"only young men" and "good organizers"? I read not 
long ago in one of our religious journals a recom- 
mendation for a young preacher by one of his friends 
who gave emphasis to the fact that the young preach- 
er had won special distinction in college as a "high 
jumper". What if our great industrial organizations 
should select their managerial personnel by the same 
standards by which many of our poor little, half dead 
Baptists churches select a pastor? 


If I have anything near a correct idea as to the 
greatest need among Christian churches in this our 
day, it is the need of God-called men who are acquain- 
ted with Jesus Christ and whose souls are aflame with 
a deathless passion for lost men. Neither Peter, James 
or John could meet the modern conception of a pastor 
nor could Parks Gwaltney or Gypsy Smith. 

The two men returning from Emmaus walked and 
talked with Jesus and afterward expressed their feel- 
ings to each other, "Did not our heart burn within us 
while he talked with us by the way?" The preacher 
who walks and talks with Jesus will have a burning 
heart. He will have a passion for souls, lost in sin, 
that no power can subdue. He will see in every man 
and woman and boy and girl, no matter how hardened 
in sin or abandoned in character, potentialities as glo- 
rious as heaven and as dangerous and awful as the 
bottomless pit. 

His soul burns with an overmastering desire to be 
instrumental in transforming the moral desert about 
him to make it rejoice and blossom as the rose. He 
flatters not the rich, to court his favor, nor does he 
cringe before the mob, to evade its wrath. He does 
not compromise the truth to gain applause nor is he 
deceived when error comes in the garb of wealth or 
rank or culture. 

J. P. Gwaltney did not belong to the first group 
described above. He did not belong to the second 
group, for if Moses was the meekest man, Jay Gwalt- 
ney was a close second. He did not belong in the third 
group because there never could be a dull moment 
while he was in the pulpit. Therefore, in all essential 

54 The School Of The Prophets 

respects he would fall among the preachers of the 
fourth group. If the qualities set forth in this group 
are qualities of greatness, then Jay Gwaltney was a 
great preacher. 

Some one has said, "You can put my sermons on 
paper but you can't put me on paper". I fully realize 
the futility of any effort to put down on paper a fair 
and adequate portrayal of a man possessing the viva- 
cious personality, the wit, the resourcefulness and at 
the same time the reverence which characterized Jay 

J. P. Gwaltney was a tall, stalwart man of stately 
bearing and commanding appearance in his vigorous 
days. Yet there was something about his humble and 
reverent attitude when addressing an audience which 
produced at once an atmosphere of ease and secured 
an undivided and sympathetic hearing. The word 
"gentleman" signifies a gentle man — a man easily ap- 
proached and in whose presence one feels at ease and 
is not restless or embarrassed. If this is a correct defi- 
nition J. P. Gwaltney was a gentleman of the most 
noble order. 

Gwaltney possessed one rare quality which must 
have been natural with him since he had never studied 
elocution and did not seem to be thinking much of ex- 
pression : he had the happy faculty of smoothness of 
expression. He seemed to be able to use the right 
word, or combination of words, most exactly expres- 
sive of the thought in hand and at the same time em- 
ploying phrases least rasping or grating upon the ear. 
And he possessed this enviable power to a remarkable 
degree not alone with reference to phraseology but 


that pleasing, rippling smoothness characterized the 
whole arrangement of his discourse. He was a mas- 
ter of expression without a knowledge of the subject 
and without being aware of it. 

There are a few public speakers who possess the 
power of description to a greater or less degree, but 
rarely in a lifetime does one meet with a public speak- 
er who can actually paint word pictures in colors and 
set them up before the eye in bold relief. Jay Gwalt- 
ney had few equals and hardly a superior in this field. 
He never acted out the scenes he wished to describe 
as some speakers do, but he could bring the scenes be- 
fore the eye with such a degree of realistic exactness 
and with such vivid outlines that it was almost as if 
one were viewing the characters involved as the scenes 
were being reenacted. 

I have heard him describe the fall of Pharaoh's 
hosts in the Red Sea. He could bring the surging, 
struggling warriors of old Pharaoh with their plung- 
ing horses, with the dragging chariot wheels, and set 
them down right in the middle of the trough of the 
Red Sea, and then reach up and turn the walls of 
water loose upon them while Moses and the children 
of Israel stood on the shore and shouted Hosannas of 
victory and praise until one was ready to run one min- 
ute, lest he be drowned, and to shout the next for joy 
with the hosts of Israel. 

I have heard him describe the cleansing of Naa- 
man, the leper, and I have seen old Naaman go down 
into the water of Jordan all covered with the loath- 
some disease and submerge himself and then again and 
again, seven times, and while he was under the water 

56 The School Of The Prophets 

on his seventh plunge have held my breath in my 
anxiety to know if he were actually going to come up 
pure and clean and well. I have wanted to reach out 
my hand and help the old general a little as he climbed 
out upon the banks of Jordan with a radiant face 
shouting praises to the God of Elisha who had power 
to cleanse and save. 

Jay Gwaltney could play upon all the seven strings 
of the human heart and bring music from every one of 
them. The chords that had lain buried would vibrate 
once more under the spell of his eloquence and the 
power of his appeal. 

I have heard some of the world's great preachers 
and speakers. It has been my pleasure to read some 
of the world's greatest sermons and, while I do not pre- 
tend to be a capable judge, I feel that I at least have a 
right to make comparisons and form my own per- 
sonal opinions. Personally, and with no desire what- 
ever to exaggerate or to use terms of extravagance 
simply to carry out the supposed purpose of biography, 
I think Jay Gwaltney was one of the great preachers 
of our time. And the fact that he lived and died in 
the rural districts, serving poor country churches and 
was known only as a country preacher in no way what- 
ever alters or affects my opinion. Whoever has re- 
garded him as an ordinary preacher of the common- 
place type is either utterly incapable of discerning the 
qualities of a genius or else he has never heard him 

Sylvester Home, a great English preacher and 
lecturer, once said, "To speak to men of God is a high 
privilege, but there is perhaps one higher : it is to 


speak to God for men". I am not so sure but that often 
the real character and ability and spiritual power of 
a man are more easily discoverable when he is at a 
throne of grace than when he is in the pulpit. Not 
every man, by any means, is endowed with power and 
ability in public prayer, not even every good man, 
no, not even every good preacher. It is a pity our 
prayers are so formal and strained and often unreal. 
J. P. Gwaltney was as powerful and as eloquent in 
prayer as he was in the pulpit. 

The s.tory is told of Horace Bushnell who, suffer- 
ing from an incurable disease, was sent by his phy- 
sician to the White Mountains with the hope of pro- 
longing his days. Here he spent the last six months 
of his life and while there Joseph Twitchell (Mark 
Twain's pastor) went to visit him. As they sat and 
talked in the still hours of the night under the stars, 
one of them suggested that they ought to pray. Twit- 
chell asked Bushnell to lead the prayer and he began 
by burying his face in the grass and Twitchell says, 
in relating the incident, "So powerful was that prayer, 
and so real, that I became afraid to put my hand out 
into the dark lest I touch God". 

Who can ever forget those soul stirring appeals 
of J. P. Gwaltney in the revival meetings when souls 
were being saved and others were lingering on the bor- 
der line? I have felt sometimes as Jay Gwaltney led 
the prayer for converting power in those great old 
spiritual revivals as if he were knocking at the very 
portals of heaven. He was "carried away in the Spir- 
it" to the very mountain top of supplicating eloquence. 
There was no hysterical shouting; no grasping after 
the correct word, no attempt at word painting; but an 

58 The School Of The Prophets 

earnest appeal that never could have been mistaken 
for affectation. Surely no one who has ever lingered 
within earshot of those appeals can say, either now or 
at the judgment, that he has not felt the moving in- 
fluence of the Spirit upon his conscience to lead him 
to a higher life. 

Often he would rise from prayer with a song, us- 
ually some familiar hymn such as "What Wondrous 
Love Is This", or "Save, Mighty Lord" and when the 
congregation would join in to carry the song he would 
make a personnal appeal to the lost. How many times 
I have beheld the marvelous effect of the power of 
God as he wrought salvation among the people with 
whom J. P. Gwaltney had labored. 

Yes, Jay Gwaltney was a great preacher. He pos- 
sessed the apostolic zeal, the spirit of humble, sacri- 
ficial service and an unwavering faith. He was hon- 
ored with a marked degree of success principally be- 
cause, as I believe, he was endowed with a double por- 
tion of God-fearing and God-honoring humility. Few 
men have lived in this country with a more ardent 
desire for the salvation of the lost or a more abound- 
ing capacity for becoming all things to all men in 
order that men might be saved. 

Jay Gwaltney lived to a great old age. He was 
blessed with strength sufficient to enable him to serve 
a wide field. His labors, brought him into intimate 
relationship with a very large circle of people in al- 
most every walk of life, and few men had more loyal 
friends. He reared a large family most of whom are 
living. As has been previously stated his first wife 
was Miss Minnie Milholland and to them were born 


three sons, Thomas, Charles and Santford. He was 
married a second time to Miss Mattie Steele, daughter 
of Robert Steele, and to them were born two children, 
Vella and Howell. The third wife was Miss Anna 
Tevypaugh, daughter of John Tevypaugh, and to them 
were born the following children : Laura, Lola, Elsie, 
Jay, Jr., Jeffie and Otha, and Minnie who died when 
a small girl. 


There comes in the life of every preacher who 
reaches a ripe old age a time of loneliness, a sort of 
semi-melancholy, if there can be such thing, when he 
begins to live largely in the past. There is probably 
no feeling quite so depressing as that which comes 
with the realization that one's fighting days are over. 
And there is no class of men, perhaps, to whom this 
realization comes with more depressing effect than to 
the minister of the gospel. 

He feels that he has been laid on the shelf, so to 
speak, and that younger blood is demanded to take his 
place. He realizes that his physical powers and usually 
his mental powers have lost in the race with time and 
suffered defeat in the battle with toil and that he is 
no longer sustained by the renewing vigor of the days 
that are gone. He feels that he is no longer able to 
cope with the strain involved in carrying on his work 
and, despite eternal hope, he feels that the world has 
begun to lose interest in him. 

As an expression of the feelings of an old preacher 
who has realized that old age has crept upon him I 

60 The School Of The Prophets 

am giving here a letter written by Uncle Jay Gwaltney 
in the Spring of 1925 and published in a local paper, 
addressed to his brethren with whom he had labored. 

"Dear Brethren : This has been a long, lonesome 
winter to me. I have been serving churches for fifty 
years and it is hard to give up the work and to cease 
meeting with the brethren and hearing the sweet songs 
of Zion. I am not sick, but am very lonesome. I 
think the brethren ought to come to see me. 

"I was walking out in the yard the other day and 
found an old gun barrel — an old London barrel. I had 
killed several turkeys with it many years ago, and I 
said, 'I am like this old gun barrel; can't be used any 
more'. Again I was walking in the yard and found an 
old plow. It had been made in a blacksmith shop, prob- 
ably fifty years ago. And I said, 'I am like this old 
plow, a back number — out of date'. 

"So I am admonished by the great many things 
I see that the day of life is far spent ; that the sun is 
sinking low in the west and that the shadows are 
growing long on the hillside. But I hope the sun will 
set in a clear sky and, therefore, I say to the breth- 
ren whose heads are growing white like my own, 
'Cheer up', there is a great meeting just ahead of us. 
It will be opened with praise and thanksgiving; for 
there will be no prayers offered there. And the meet- 
ing will never adjourn. Then we shall sing as we have 
never sung before, "What wondrous love is this, O 
my soul, O my soul'. 

"Poor sinner, I earnestly and affectionately en- 
treat you, get ready and go with us to that great meet- 


It is indeed, a pathetic and trying period in the 
life of a preacher when he must forego the pleasure of 
filling his appointments and meeting with the brethren 
in the work of the kingdom. But happy is the preacher 
who is able to come up to it ripened and sweetened 
and mellowed in temper and spirit so as to gracefully 
and gallantly accept it with no bitter feelings; void 
of jealousy and envy toward those who take his place 
in the ranks out of which he has fallen. 

Uncle Jay came up to this period in life with these 
happy qualities. Not that he had escaped the physical 
infirmities and mental uncertainties incident to old 
age ; but that despite both of these, he had retained, 
to a remarkable degree, his former spirit of good 
cheer, his unfailing love for the brethren, his deep and 
abiding interest in the work of the churches and, 
above all his yearning passion for the lost. And this 
last, let it be said, preeminent and predominant in his 
whole ministerial career, never weakened to the very 
last conscious day on earth. 

His whole life was spent, after he entered the min- 
istry, in a most unselfish and untiring effort to lead 
men to Christ. And as the years multiplied this pas- 
sion grew in so much that it may be truly said that 
the entreaties of the aged man were as tender and 
loving as they were powerful and persistent in the 
more vigorous years of his ministry. 

Uncle Jay retained a marked degree of "freedom" 
in the delivery of his message, being able to hold his 
thoughts together in a logical, orderly way, even after 
the physical man was shaken with the infirmities of 
age and disease. I have heard him preach when he 

62 The School Of The Prophets 

was too infirm to stand in the pulpit and was com- 
pelled to sit in a chair or on a table while delivering 
his sermon. And to save my life I could not figure 
out how the spirit of the man could so overcome the 
infirmities of the flesh. For he would announce a text, 
divide his discourse into its logical and Scriptural 
headings, take up each thought in its proper place and 
develop it; driving to the conclusion with mounting 
eloquence and fervor to the end without losing a sin- 
gle thread of the thought or becoming the least con- 
fused in the arrangement. 

We poor preachers, in this day, seem to think we 
are terribly imposed upon if an extra service is im- 
posed upon us. And if we have already spoken twice 
in a single day we politely excuse ourselves from fur- 
ther duty on the grounds that we are tired. We stand 
in bold contrast in this, as in many other things, with 
the pioneer preacher of other days who thought it a 
great privilege to preach four or five times in a day 
and thanked God for thus honoring him. 

I am reminded of the history of John Knox, not 
only in his younger days but when he was sick and 
infirm as he went about preaching many times in the 
day. A man by the name of James Melvill who lived 
in the days of Knox went to hear him preach and 
wrote some interesting impressions in his diary con- 
cerning the man and his message. When Knox went 
to St. Andrews to preach Melvill was there (1571) 
and among the things noted in the diary we find the 
following: "When Knox came to St. Andrews he was 
so ill and weak he had to be helped into the pulpit 
where he behoved to lean at his first entrie; but ere 
he was done with his sermon he was so vigorous and 


active that he was like to ding (beat) the pulpit into 
blades (pieces) and fly out of it". 

Once upon a time Uncle Jay Gwaltney had occa- 
sion to lovingly admonish the writer to be patient 
under trials and declared that he had learned to be 
actually grateful for all the humiliating experiences 
of his life, although some of them had been so harsh 
and sharp as to cut to the quick for the time being. 
He had learned, he said, to lay up such trials as a kind 
of a savings account from which to draw for future 
strength. In driving home the fact that even persecu- 
tion was not without value he related the following 
experience : 

He was pastor of the church at Dudley Shoals soon 
after he entered the ministry and, being without expe- 
rience in the work, was not always prepared for any 
kind of circumstance that might arise. It was, I be- 
lieve, in the year 1875 or 1876. At any rate it was 
the year of the grievous drought in that part of the 
country. The crops were parching up and the streams 
had run low. 

At one of the Saturday meetings some brother 
suggested that they should pray for rain and Uncle 
Jay was asked to lead the prayer. He did so, and be- 
sought the Lord with earnest supplication to send the 
refreshing showers to revive the parched earth. 

When the prayer was finished a good brother arose 
and requested that he be allowed to speak and the fol- 
lowing is the substance of what he had to say : "Breth- 
ren, there are certain natural laws which govern the 
condition of the weather. These laws must act in such 
a way as to produce certain climatic or atmospheric 

64 The School Of The Prophets 

changes before it could possibly rain. Now what I 
wish to say is this, if I had no more sense than to 
pray for rain I would be ashamed to let the Lord know 

Gwaltney was so hurt and so humiliated that he 
offered his resignation as pastor of the church and, 
although it was not the wish of the church for him 
to do so, he left the work and did not return for seve- 
ral years. But to finish this part of the story : before 
the people reached home that afternoon there arose 
a cloud in the sky, the size of a man's hand and soon 
the heavens were black with clouds and the rain came 
down in torrents, making glad the hearts of those who 
tilled the soil, notwithstanding many of them got a 
thorough soaking before they reached shelter. It is 
presumed that certain "climatic changes" had taken 
place and that the prayers of the pastor and people 
had thus been answered. 

This story has a pathetic conclusion. Several years 
later this good brother sent for Uncle Jay to come to 
his home. His wife and daughter had been stricken 
with a malignant fever which had become a terrible 
scourge in that section that year and had taken many 
people away. He went to the home and was welcomed 
by the brother who had so scathingly rebuked him be- 
cause he had prayed for rain. He was asked to go 
into the sick room and to pray for those who had been 
stricken with the fever. Of course he went and prayed 
for them to be restored to health with all his charac- 
teristic fervor. But it was not the will of Providence 
that the prayer should be answered ; for the wife and 
daughter were sick unto death. 


The brother called the preacher to one side and, 
with tears in his eyes, begged forgiveness for his rude- 
ness at the Saturday meeting and declared that his 
mind had undergone a radical change on the subject 
of God's dealings with His creatures here below. 

Uncle Jay, after relating this incident, said, with 
a twinkle in his eye, "I have a good notion to tell you 
the sequel to this story". And he did. A few years 
later this brother decided to take unto himself another 
helpmate. He informed Uncle Jay of his intentions 
and requested him to remember him in prayer that he 
might be divinely directed in the selection of a life 
partner. And later, after he had succeeded in such 
selection, he called upon Uncle Jay to say the words 
that would bind them together in the sacred bonds. 

Some of the individual members of the churches 
served by Uncle Jay were liberal in their support of 
the pastor and a few churches were counted liberal. 
But for the most part his salary was small indeed. 
Many times he has served a church a whole year with 
nothing to show for it of a temporal nature but, per- 
haps a few dimes in money and possibly some small 
gifts in the way of food. But he went bravely on, bat- 
tling against hardships and discouragements, always 
cheerful and radiant and hopeful. He owned a good 
little farm from which he could produce considerable 
grain and upon which he could raise hogs and cows 
with the guarantee of "hog and hominy" whether his 
churches gave him anything for his services or not. 
And this may have had something to do with his op- 
timistic outlook for all I know. 

Uncle Jay told me once how he served a church 
a year and received by way of a stipend the sum total 

66 The School Of The Prophets 

of one nickel and one louse. If he told me what church 
it was I do not recall it. I presume he appreciated the 
nickel, although I do not recall his paying a glowing 
tribute to the memory of the louse. 

It is only fair, however, to say that in later years 
when the general run of rural people had become more 
prosperous the churches helped him in a material way 
much better. But for many years, as long as he was 
actively engaged in the service, he rode through cold 
and heat, over rough roads for many miles to bury 
the dead, to visit the sick, to unite the young in mar- 
riage, to labor in revivals, to ordain preachers and 
deacons and to organize churches, for the most part, 
at his own expense. But he never complained and 
always rendered any service he could, cheerfully and 

It was a great pleasure to visit in his home. He 
never did know any better than to throw his home 
open to his friends and to make everyone happy and 
comfortable. He seemed to grow more, rather than 
less, hospitable as he advanced in years. During the 
winter of 1931-32 he was confined to his room and a 
portion of the time to his bed, but he was never too 
feeble to do his best to make visitors feel welcome. He 
became so ill that the doctor believed the end was 
near and was perplexed to know what mysterious 
power enabled him to cling on to life. 

I went to see him on the fifth Sunday in August, 
1931, and found him sitting by the fire, the weather 
being chill and damp. And to my astonishment he had 
been studying a sermon and had arranged an outline, 
although he knew he would never need it before an 
audience. He quoted the text and gave me the points 


in the outline, then proceeded to enlarge upon the 
thoughts and to develop each line of argument to the 
climax and, of course he could not close a sermon 
without an appeal to the lost. He seemed to be as 
much interested in the discourse as if he were going 
to use it the next Sunday before a large audience. His 
mind was clear and the arrangement was entirely in 
keeping with the meaning of the text, it seemed to me. 

But when I returned to the home on the fifth Sun- 
day in November I found him very feeble indeed. His 
hearing was so defective it was impossible to converse 
with him. I requested some member of the family, 
to whose voice he would respond, to ask him a few 
questions, all of which he answered in that same 
cheerful way and with the same good sound sense 
that had always characterized him. The only defect 
discoverable in his mind was that he could think only 
slowly. I thought he was thinking clearly. 

He called me to his bed and reminded me, in a 
very feeble voice, of an agreement between him and 
myself made some ten years before, to the effect that if 
he died first I was to say the last rites when they laid 
him to rest; and that if I should die first he was to 
have charge of my funeral service. He spoke of these 
solemn things with as much complacency as if he were 
only contemplating a short journey to the home of a 

On the seventh day of April, 1932, the "chariot of 
Israel and the horsemen thereof" swung low over the 
old home and parted him asunder from his loved ones 
and they saw him no more. His last day on earth was 
the closing out of a wonderfully active, useful and lova- 
ble life. His "sun set in a clear sky" and he began the 

68 The School Of The Prophets 

life in the land of light where "the meetings never ad- 
journ and the Sabbaths never end". He had reached 
the ripe old age of ninety-two years, one month, nine- 
teen days. 

His body was laid to rest at Linney's Grove Bap- 
tist Church on April 8, 1932. He had been largely in- 
strumental in organizing the church and had served 
as its pastor for a number of years. A great many 
people from all parts of the surrounding country came 
to pay their respects to the greatly beloved preacher 
and neighbor. The writer, according to agreement, 
read a portion of Scripture and quoted for a text the 
twelfth verse of the second chapter of Second Kings. 

The following ministers were present, some of 
whom offered some remarks relative to his life and 
work : J. W. Watts, Atwell Watts, R. L. Davis, E. V. 
Bumgarner, C. C. Holland, Grady White, the pastor; 
L. E. Barnes, V. M. Swain and D. W. Poole. He was 
laid to rest with Mas<onic honors, led by Mr. A. C. 
Payne, of Taylorsville. 


Rev. L. Parks Gwaltney 


Although there seems to have been scant record 
made of the families who came from across the sea 
to seek home and fortune in the new world, we know 
that the Gwaltneys came to America before the Revo- 
lutionary War and that they were of Welch stock. 
The first Gwaltney about whom I have been able to 
learn anything definite is John Gwaltney, I. He had 
three sons, Robert, Nathan, and William Gaither. 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney was a son of James Gwalt- 
ney who was a son of William Gaither Gwaltney, the 
son of John Gwaltney. He was born near Vashti, 
N. C., in Alexander County, Gwaltney's Township, 
November 3, 1848. 

The Gwaltneys were a law-abiding and dependable 
people, always affiliated with the work of the church 
as far back as the name can be traced. They were 
characterized by a friendly, neighborly disposition. 

His mother was Rinda Stephenson, or as some- 
times spelled, Stevenson, daughter of Martin Steven- 
son, known locally as "Grancer Martin" Stevenson. 
The following sketch is from the pen of Mr. J. Adley 
D. Stevenson and will give a good idea of the Steven- 
son line from which "Grancer Martin" came : 

"Although our fathers came from Belfast, Ireland, 
they were doubtless originally from Scotland, as. they 
were all Presbyterians. James Stevenson, my great 


72 The School Of The Prophets 

grandfather, was born in Belfast, Ireland. He was full 
six feet tall and a man of fine form. His early life 
was spent in the English navy. When he came to 
America he settled on the eastern s.hores of Maryland 
where he married Sally Kelley, a lady of Irish par- 
entage. He remained in Maryland about ten years 
and then about 1755 or 1760 he came to North Caro- 
lina, and settled on the head waters of the upper val- 
ley of the South Yadkin River in Alexander County. 

"Here he entered 640 acres of land, the full amount 
allowed by the government. He made a fine selection ; 
the land was very fertile and the surrounding moun- 
tains furnished fine range for grazing. He found ready 
sale for the surplus products of the farm and stock 
as emigrants were constantly coming in and settling 
around him, most of whom had sold out and moved 
from other states and brought but little with them 
except the cash they had received for such sale. He 
invested most of his. money in the purchase of negro 
slaves. He died in 1820, being ninety-nine years and 
nine months of age. My grandmother died a few 
months later. 

"They had eight children : six daughters and two 
sons. Mary married John Arrington, Jane married 
John Burton, Sarah married David Millican, Nancy 
married William Lackey, Annie married George Lack- 
ey, and Mollie married Thomas Lackey." 

Doubtless Mr. Stevenson could have given more of 
the family history, but the following I have learned 
from other authentic sources : 

James Stevenson, known locally as "Revolutionary 
Stevenson", sleeps, in the old Vashti graveyard over- 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 73 

looking the South Yadkin river. His son, James, II, 
married Rebecca Bowles and settled on the Stevenson 
estate. He was the father of Martin Luther Steven- 
son (Grancer Stevenson), the father of Rinda Ste- 
venson Gwaltney, mother of Leroy Parks. Gwaltney. 

After the death of James Gwaltney, the father of 
Parks Gwaltney, Mrs. Gwaltney married William Ba- 
ker, and to them were born three sons, James F., 
J. Van and Robert Lee. Parks Gwaltney had only one 
brother, John L., a practicing attorney, living in Tay- 
lorsville, a highly respected citizen, an able lawyer 
and an active Christian worker. There were, also, the 
following sis.ters : Flora, who married W. C. Beck- 
ham ; May, who married Judson Greens ; Emma, who 
was accidentally killed when a girl by a sword in the 
hands of a neighbor, and Sarah Evalin who married 
Watson Lackey. 

After his marriage to Miss Mattie Hines, daugh- 
ter of Benny Hines who lived near Sulphur Springs, 
he moved to the old homestead near Vashti where he 
spent the major part of his active life as a minister of 
the gospel. He later moved to Stony Point where he 
was pastor of the Baptist church and, a few years 
thereafter, moved to Taylorsville where he spent the 
remainder of his life. 

Mr. and Mrs. Gwaltney reared a family of seven 
children ; five girls and two boys : Grace, Robert, Jen- 
nie, Lizzie, who died when a child ; Pearl, Emma Lee, 
and Leroy Parks, Jr. 

Gwaltney delighted in the freedom and ease of ru- 
ral life. He liked to live on the farm where he could 
have quiet and he was happy and contented in the 

74 The School Of The Prophets 

pursuit of his studies. He also took pleasure in farm- 
ing and would don his overalls and go into the field to 
work at whatever came to hand, whether it was to 
"pull fodder" or to dig a ditch. 

The period following the Civil War, just as in the 
periods following all wars, was characterized by a 
great falling away among the young people in moral 
standards and in spiritual stamina. War hardens men, 
strange as it may seem, instead of making men better. 
The spirit of the times following war seems to hold 
men in a grip of wild and reckless abandon. L. P. 
Gwaltney, as a boy in the days which followed the 
War Between the States, was not immune to the spirit 
of the times. He fell in with young men of his own 
age who were of the dare-devil type and who soon be- 
gan to make things uncomfortable in the community. 
They took to drink and to the sins incident to drink. 

He was too young to enter the service of the Sou- 
thern Confederacy in the war, being only in his early 
teens, but being full of the spirit of adventure and 
craving excitement, he joined the Home Guard and 
rode the mountains and forests in search of deserters. 
He carried a long barreled gun of the old musket 
type and could use it like a seasoned warrior. 

Not many years before his death he pointed out to 
me the spot near the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain where 
his Company "flushed" a group of "bushwhackers" 
just as day was breaking across the eastern slopes of 
the Brushies. The Home Guard had silently stalked 
the place and were almost upon the deserters before 
they were aware of their presence. The bushwhackers 
ran for the mountains while the guard pursued with 
guns banging and bullets whizzing. Gwaltney said 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 75 

he sighted a man running toward a clump of trees 
and noted that he was in his shirt sleeves. He noticed 
also, that his suspenders were crossed between his 
s.houlder blades. All this he observed in the excite- 
ment of a few seconds and it was upon the crossed 
suspenders he deliberately drew a bead with the long 
gun and squeezed the trigger. "Snap!" That was all 
he heard. For some unknown reason the gun failed 
to fire. He said it had never been known to fail be- 
fore. Of course the man made his way in a few jumps 
to safety behind the sheltering trees. Gwaltney ex- 
pressed his deep feelings of gratitude, as he pointed 
out the spot, that he was thus spared the guilt and 
consequent troubled conscience for taking human life, 
even under the sanction of military law. 

A few years later he, in company with some other 
young men, all, perhaps, under the influence of liquor, 
went by the home of an old lady who lived alone. 
They did not wish to do her any injury, but they de- 
cided to have some fun at her expense and began run- 
ning around her cabin, emitting wild yells like Indians 
on the warpath and finally ran by the door and kicked 
it down. The old lady left home and reported the mat- 
ter to the "law" and the boys were soon being rounded 
up. They were hailed before the court to answer the 
charge of various, and sundry crimes and misdemea- 
nors of more or less serious nature. 

Judge Mitchell was on the bench when the trial 
was called. R. Z. Linney and Marshall Clemmons, 
then young lawyers, volunteered to defend the boys, 
made a mighty plea for them and got them off with 
a fine. The venerable old judge gave them a lecture 
from the bench, telling them how they could make 

76 The School Of The Prophets 

useful men if they would leave off the use of whiskey 
and settle down to the task of living the serious life 
of a good citizen. The words of wisdom found a place 
in young Gwaltney's heart. Not long afterward he at- 
tended a meeting at Pleasant Hill and there became 
concerned about his spiritual well being and before 
the meeting closed surrendered his life to Christ. Soon 
thereafter he united with the Baptist church at Bethel. 
The harrowing court experience with the kindly ad- 
vice and wise counsel of the judge was the cause, in 
part at least, for the turning point in his life. 

Long years afterward, when his hair was white 
like the snow, I heard Parks Gwaltney deliver one of 
ilia finest tributes I have ever heard paid to any man 
at the funeral of Col. R. Z. Linney who had pled at 
the bar for him in his youth. I wondered if either of 
them thought then of a long friendship of the tender- 
est kind which should grow up between them in after 
years. Gwaltney, in speaking at the grave of Linney, 
used as a text the words of David when he mourned 
the death of Jonathan : "I am distressed for thee, my 
brother Jonathan ; very pleasant hast thou been unto 
me ; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of 

Gwaltney once related the following incident which 
also had much to do with his subsequent reformation : 

He was walking along the road which leads around 
the foot of the Rocky Face Mountain and, coming to 
a gate across the road, he observed the approach of 
the Sheriff of the County, Sheriff Welborn Mays. 
Gwaltney, then a wild youth, upon seeing Mays about 
to alight from the horse to open the gate, hurried for- 
ward and opened it himself; then when the Sheriff 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 77 

had ridden through he closed the gate and was about 
to go on his way when the Sheriff accosted him, placed 
his hand on the young man's shoulder and said, "Parks., 
I thank you. That was very kind". Then he added in 
the most fatherly way, "Parks, you have the making 
of a man in you. Why don't you leave off this folly 
about which I hear and give your energies to some- 
thing worth while? You can if you will, and if there 
is anything in the world I can do to help you I shall 
gladly do it". The old Sheriff turned and rode away, 
but his kind words, stayed in the heart of the boy. 
They remained there as long as he lived and he always 
remembered that day as one of the stepping stones to 
higher and better things. 

During all these years, despite the recklessness of 
his life, his alertness of mind, his power to lay hold 
upon things with an intellectual grasp and store them 
away ; his ability to call them up without a moment's, 
hesitation for immediate use was not only unusual 
but of an extraordinary kind. This power he retained 
all the way through life and it was this, in no small 
degree, at least, that made him an expert in gathering 
facts from all sources, very few of which he ever al- 
lowed to slip his memory. 

It was a great day for him when he attended his 
first public school. He had reached the age of six and 
for weeks he had thought and talked only of the school. 
And when the day finally arrived he gathered his 
books and lunch and ran all the way to the school 
house. When he arrived "books" had been called, but 
he hurried in, took off his hat, and walking briskly 
down to the front exclaimed in a childish, piping voice 
filled with enthusiasm, "Well, I have come". 

78 The School Of The Prophets 

He attended this school and the following sessions, 
completing the work offered in the free schools, and 
entered the high school at Cedar Run, now Vashti, 
and later the school at Sulphur Springs, taught by 
W. A. Poole, and when this course was completed he 
entered Wake Forest College. He was a good student 
and was making fine progress in college when his eye- 
sight began to fail and he was compelled to abandon 
the course after the completion of one year. 

Gwaltney's ability to retain facts was probably 
never surpassed by any other man in our time. When 
a lad he could attend a meeting or debating society 
and then, in company with his playmates, he could 
repeat, almost without the omission of a word, the 
speech or sermon he had heard. And what was more 
annoying to the elders of his day as well as amusing 
to the young folks, he could imitate the voice and copy 
the style of the speaker in an alarmingly distressing 

In the Spring of 1865 after Stoneman had marched 
down the Yadkin valley, leaving bleak desolation in 
his path, two men, Wade and Simmons, deserters, from 
the Stoneman army, took up headquarters on the north 
bank of the Yadkin River, just east of where Lewis 
Fork enters the Yadkin near Holman's Ford. They oc- 
cupied a large, two-story log house, owned by some 
Hamby women. It stood on a high hill overlooking 
the valleys of both the Yadkin River and Lewis Fork, 
from which point these robbers could sweep the en- 
tire countryside with their guns. They cut portholes 
in the logs and stationed themselves so securely with- 
in that the place became known as "Fort Hamby." 
Here Wade and Simmons gathered about them a group 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 79 

of other deserters and bushwhackers from which they 
formed a band of marauders as ruthless and cruel as 
ever lived in this country. Simmons later moved his 
part of the gang over to another point on the Brushy 
Mountains, leaving Wade in charge at Fort Hamby. 
Wade claimed to be from Michigan. 

From Fort Hamby, Wade and his men operated 
through Wilkes and Alexander and Caldwell Counties, 
robbing and plundering as they went. Just for prac- 
tice, with a high powered rifle they killed a woman 
as she was riding across Holman's Ford in a wagon. 
After one of their raids in Caldwell County they were 
followed to the fort by a group of returned Southern 
soldiers, led by Major Harvey Bingham, but they were 
defeated and left two of their number dead on the 
grounds near the fort, a young man by the name of 
Henley and another named Clark. 

After a raid in Alexander County where the rob- 
bers attempted to rob the home of Rev. John Greene, 
a number of soldiers from Alexander formed a com- 
pany and followed them. Among them were two young 
men, Jones Brown, son of Billie Brown, and James 
Linney, son of Dr. Copeland Linney, who were little 
more than lads. Neither of them returned. They were 
shot from the fort and their bodies buried near those 
of Henley and Clark. Later, their bodies, were re- 
moved to Alexander. 

Parks Gwaltney, then a young man of not more 
than fifteen or sixteen years of age, was in this group 
from Alexander. He and Brown were close friends 
and had ridden together to the fort. When the firing 
from the fort became so terrific that the soldiers saw 
no hope of taking it they withdrew and, as Gwaltney 

80 The School Of The Prophets 

and Brown were crossing the Lewis Fork ford, a bul- 
let struck Brown in the thigh, severing an artery. 
He fell from his horse as they reached the bank of the 
creek. He said to Gwaltney, just before he fell from 
the saddle, "Parks, I am going to die, and Great God ! 
I am not ready !" 

The boys had secured some brandy on the way to 
the fort and had been drinking. Gwaltney related the 
following interesting incident: As they were crossing 
the mountains Jones Brown suddenly became serious 
and seemed to be much dejected. He turned to Gwalt- 
ney and said, "I have a feeling that I shall never re- 
turn over this road alive. I believe I shall be killed", 
and so saying he drew a bottle of brandy from his 
pocket and threw it into the bushes, saying, "I shall 
never drink another drop as long as I live!" 

Two weeks after this event another group of sol- 
diers were gathered in Alexander County and one in 
Caldwell. The group from Alexander was led by Col. 
Wall Sharpe and the group from Caldwell was led by 
Rev. Isaac Oxford. They joined forces and marched 
upon the fort in the early morning hours before the 
light of day. Col. Wall Sharpe crawled through the 
brush, entered the kitchen of the fort and struck a 
match to a straw tick. Soon the kitchen was in a blaze 
and the robbers came trooping down and surrendered. 

Wade was among them, but he suddenly made a 
break for liberty, rolling over and jumping among the 
soldiers and thus made his escape to the Yadkin River 
where he dived under the bank and remained hidden 
till the search for him ended. The remaining robbers 
were tried, convicted and shot on the hilltop near the 
fort. My father was in this group from Alexander 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 81 

County, carrying one arm in a sling from a bullet 
wound received in the war. I took him and some other 
old gentlemen to the scene of the conflict some fifty- 
odd years after it happened. He was able to point out 
the graves of the soldiers who had died there and the 
exact spot where the robbers were tied to stakes and 
shot. He said "Orange" Linney, an old colored slave, 
accompanied him and carried his gun. When the 
shooting began my father would lay the gun across 
Orange's shoulder, and use it as a "rest". 

Parks Gwaltney once told me of the sad scene at 
the Brown home when the soldiers came back leading 
the horse young Brown had ridden. The old gentle- 
man came to the door when the soldiers rode up to the 
yard and, seeing the empty and bloody saddle, ex- 
claimed, "O, my son, my son". Dr. W. R. Gwaltney, 
in writing of those dark days, says : "The loss of Lin- 
ney and Brown cast the darkest shadow of gloom and 
sadness over the whole community". 

I have related these tragic and yet unavoidable 
happenings, not that they are not known by the peo- 
ple who may read this book, but to remind them some- 
what of the terrible condition into which this country 
had fallen at the time Parks Gwaltney grew up to 
manhood. It surely is another instance of how God 
"works all things together for good" even under the 
mos.t revolting circumstances, to impress the minds 
of men with the brevity of human life and the im- 
portance of employing the swiftly passing years in 
service to God and His creatures. 

Before his conversion Parks Gwaltney's keen mind 
was feeling out for facts and in reading whatever he 
could lay his hands upon he came in touch with Inger- 

82 The School Of The Prophets 

soil and other skeptic minds. He became perplexed 
about religious problems and, it was said, became at 
one time an avowed infidel. It is the opinion of the 
writer, however, that this pretense was more of a 
gesture to impress his comrades with his dare-devil 
superiority over his environment than it was ever a 

And perhaps, too, he was using this pretense as a 
shield against impressions that were growing upon 
him that he should consider the claims of the gospel 
upon him. At any rate such an attitude is not uncom- 
mon among young people of that age. 

Most people, I believe, who are unusually brilliant 
also have a keen sense of humor. Gwaltney used to 
relate an incident of his childhood days which was 
amusing to him as it was to others. He accompanied 
his mother to church at Bethel when he was a mere 
child of perhaps five or six years of age. The preacher, 
whoever he may have been, had a powerful voice and 
this impressed him very much. But in the course of 
the sermon the preacher had occasion to refer several 
times to Jehoshaphat and Gwaltney thought that was 
the biggest word he had ever heard. He left the ser- 
vice at its close with the feeling that the preacher 
must be a powerful preacher to use a word like Jehos- 

Once while attending school at Cedar Run, under 
Prof. J. H. Hill, Gwaltney was sitting near where the 
professor had hung his overcoat. He observed that 
there was a torn place in the coat and that some bits 
of cotton were protruding through the rent. The lon- 
ger he looked at it the greater grew the temptation 
to slip a lighted splinter from the open fire and ignite 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 83 

the cotton in the coat, until finally the temptation over- 
came him and he stealthily stole a lighted piece of 
wood from the fire and stuck it to the cotton. At once 
there was a flare and the blaze began eating into the 
coat. Then, as if he had just discovered it, he yelled 
at the top of his voice, "Professor Hill, your overcoat 
is on fire!" Long years afterward he told Prof. Hill 
what really happened and the old Professor, who was 
a great admirer of Gwaltney now, said to him, "I have 
a grand notion to give you the threshing you deserve, 

Living on the old plantation where his father and 
grandfather had lived and died, he was being con- 
stantly reminded of things that took place in his child- 
hood days and of stories that had been handed down 
from one generation to another. He remembered "Big 
Billie" Stevenson, a great uncle, who seemed to have 
been his boyhood hero. "Big Billie" owned about a 
thousand acres of land and was a prominent citizen in 
his day. He was a man of unusually large physical 
stature with a voice in keeping with his size, hence 
his name. He was a man of great natural sense and 
judgment, but had very little "book learning". 

Gwaltney remembered him vividly and recalled 
many of his quaint sayings. On one occasion "Big 
Billie" came by way of the Gwaltney home from a trip 
to town to pay his tax. He rode up into the yard and 
called Parks' father. He seemed to be excited and in 
his ponderous voice said, "Jim, what do you suppose 
I had to pay out in taxes today? Three dollars and 
seventy-five cents!" That was a considerable sum for 
the State to collect on a thousand acres of land ! 

84 The School Of The Prophets 

On another occasion "Big Billie" rode up to the 
Gwaltney home and s-aid, "Jim, I just rode over to tell 
you that I am going to execute a very fine beef tomor- 
row and I want you to come over and assist me in the 
extinction of the hide". 

Among the amusing stories related by Gwaltney 
was this one : There lived in Alexander County a wo- 
man by the name of Sally Hendren. For some un- 
known cause Aunt Sally lost her reason while com- 
paratively young and regained it when she was past 
middle life. She lived to be one hundred years, seven 
months and one day old. Parks Gwaltney preached 
at the celebration of her hundredth anniversary, using 
the text, "There shall be no more thence an infant of 
days; nor an old man that hath not filled his days; 
for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the 
sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be ac- 
cursed !" — Isaiah 65 :20. 

It was told as a joke and taken in the best of hu- 
mor by all the Hendren family, that once when the 
doctor was examining Aunt Sally, he asked if she had 
ever received a blow about the head. They replied that 
they knew of nothing except that once a limb from a 
tree had struck her, in falling to the ground. Where- 
upon Aunt Sally retorted, "It must have been a hell 
of a long limb, for it hit every Hendren by the name". 

But to the story : Aunt Sally was attending a re- 
vival meeting at Bethel where an old preacher with 
long hair and long beard was called upon to lead a 
prayer. He prayed so long that people began to get 
restless and to wonder if he were going to pray all 
day. Finally, after something like a half-hour Aunt 
Sally suddenly reached out and took hold of a candle 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 85 

that was burning and stuck the lighted end of it to 
the old preacher's head, exclaiming, "I am tired of 
this and I know God-a-mighty is, too !" The preacher 
said "amen" while extinguishing the blaze. 


L. P. Gwaltney was of striking personality in his 
younger days. Strong and muscular of build, black 
hair and ruddy of face, his eyes were blue and piercing, 
and when excited or extremely interested, those eyes 
sparkled like two diamond points. He wore a black 
beard according to the fashion of his day and was, 
withal, a fine specimen of manhood. 

His voice was clear and expressive. I have thought 
that if he had possessed but one outstanding endow- 
ment — that of his voice — it would have set him apart 
from the ordinary public speaker in a degree sufficient 
to have compensated for almost any other deficiency. 
Whether he spoke in the soft conversational tone or 
raised his voice to its highest pitch it was as clear and 
musical as a silver bell. It also had that rare carry- 
ing power which enabled his hearers to gather every 
word both when speaking in a low tone and when he 
lifted his voice to the skies to come down like a mighty 
avalanche upon an audience. 

A former editor of The Greensboro Daily News, in 
writing of L. P. Gwaltney, many years ago, spoke of 
him as a "machine gun preacher". Whether the term 
is appropriate or not, one could not hear him speak 
without some such association. He was truly a "min- 

86 The School Of The Prophets 

ute man". He is quoted as saying that if he had to be 
executed he would want it done at once and have it 
over with. It was his nature to spring into action like 
an electric shock. When he stood before an audience to 
speak, his thoughts came rushing in so fast and fu- 
riously he had to hurl them out, so to speak, in order 
to give room for others which were clamoring for ex- 

Yet, contrary to what this description might seem 
to imply, he was not of the erratic, emotional type at 
all. He never "yelled" at the wrong time or place nor 
shouted himself hoarse from excitement. On the con- 
trary, he stood practically still, gestured only in a nat- 
ural and expressive way, followed the line of thought 
in hand in a clear, logical and convincing manner and 
did it as very few men who have ever lived in this 
country could do it. 

I have no sermon of his to include in this sketch. 
He never wrote one, so far as I know. I shall not at- 
tempt to put down on paper what Parks Gwaltney was 
like when in action before an audience. He talked 
rather swiftly, but perhaps not too swiftly — for him; 
and one must think swiftly to keep pace with his 
thoughts. Those only who have heard him and felt the 
power of his personality and the depths of his sincerity 
can ever have anything like an adequate idea of Parks 
Gwaltney in the pulpit. What one felt as he sat before 
him and heard him can never be conveyed from one 
person to another by the use of descriptive words. 

It was the fourth Sunday in May, 1870, at Bethel, 
his home church. Parks Gwaltney was to make his 
initial effort in the pulpit that day. A great crowd 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 87 

had assembled, including a number of preachers. The 
hour of eleven was approaching and with fear and 
trembling the young man of twenty-two years arose 
and read the third verse of the first chapter of Na- 
hum : "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power 
and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord hath 
his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the 
clouds are the dust of his feet". I have wondered if 
the words, "whirlwind" and "storm" had anything 
to do with his selection of the text! 

He spoke only fifteen or twenty minutes, but he 
had taken away the breath of his audience by saying 
more in those minutes than they were accustomed to 
hear in an hour. He had spoken with such power and 
had moved so swiftly that the people were slow to 
realize that the sermon was over. Then happened a 
strange thing : every one in the house felt that Gwalt- 
ney had far exceeded anything they had ever heard as 
an initial effort except Gwaltney himself. He felt that 
he had made a miserable failure and as he left the pul- 
pit he vowed that he would never try it again. He was 
so humiliated and ashamed that he actually slid out 
at a window and when the people came down to con- 
gratulate him he was gone. He had made a bee line 
for the woods. 

But whatever had been his own feelings, he had 
profoundly impressed the people with his ability. He 
soon found himself besieged by surrounding churches 
for appointments and in demand for pastorates and re- 
vival work throughout the whole section of the country. 

Referring to the text in Nahum, I find in a diary 
kept by Mr. Gwaltney the following notation, made in 

88 The School Of The Prophets 

1910' upon his return from an appointment at Lile- 
down on the fourth Sunday in May: "Fortieth an- 
niversary of my ministry. Very solemn day. Talked 
from my first text, Nahum, 1 :3. Solemn time to me". 

Among the churches served as pastor by Mr. Gwalt- 
ney in his early ministry may be named the follow- 
ing: Grassy Knob, Walnut Grove, Cub Creek, Sulphur 
Springs, Three Forks, Bethel and Taylor Springs. La- 
ter in life he served other fields including the church 
at Stony Point, Wilkesboro, Taylorsville, and Liledown. 

Gwaltney became popular almost overnight after 
his first sermon. He was soon recognized as one of 
the leading preachers of his generation in this part 
of the country, and was in great demand as a speaker at 
district Associations and other special assemblies. He 
began at once a systematic study of the Scriptures and 
as the years rolled on he became more and more an 
earnest seeker after the mind of the Spirit as it is 
recorded in the word of God. I would not think of 
laying a claim to any ability to judge the merits of 
men, yet I have a right, I believe, to my personal opin- 
ion : and I am quite sure that no man ever lived in our 
state who had a deeper grasp upon the great truths 
of the Bible than Parks Gwaltney. 

Some thought of him as a sort of intellectual freak, 
or at least a genius, who could speak without prepara- 
tion and learn without labor ; but those who were as- 
sociated with him most intimately knew that he was 
a most zealous and ardent worker. He was a student 
first and last and what appeared to be natural, as the 
result of a gift was in reality the fruitage of the most 
constant and arduous toil. True, he did possess the 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 89 

ability to store away facts and to recall them for use 
at a moment's notice, in a very remarkable degree; 
but it should not be forgotten that he had to sweat to 
secure those facts. 

Mr. Gwaltney became so popular as a public speak- 
er that some, who, of course, could not know any better, 
were afraid he might be spoiled. You know, ladies 
and gentlemen, that many young men and for all I 
know, women, too, have been "teetotally ruint" just 
by a little flattery. I have always felt that in such 
cases there was a tap loose somewhere to start with, 
but it is a pity, nevertheless. 

Once Gwaltney was to preach at Taylor Springs 
and in the devotional service an old brother prayed, 
"Lord, grant thy power to the preacher to preach. We 
do not desire popularity for him, but power; for he 
already has enough popularity to ruin any man !" Hum- 
erous as the incident may have been, the old brother 
was not far from the right track as pertains to the 
average poor mortal man. But Parks Gwaltney had 
too much good sense and was too humble and reverent, 
and too entirely dependent upon a Higher Power to be 
affected by a little praise from men. 

Many of Gwaltney's friends felt that he should have 
availed himself of the many opportunities offered for 
a larger field of labor. He could have entered the evan- 
gelistic field and, as I most certainly believe, placed his 
name along beside those of Spurgeon, Torrey, or Gypsy 
Smith, with the advantage over them all in the fact 
that none of them was as eloquent as he. 

He had multiplied opportunities to have accepted 
the care of large churches where the salary would have 

90 The School Of The Prophets 

been ample and where he could have devoted more 
time to study and at the same time avoided the hard- 
ships incident to the life of a rural preacher. As many 
of his admirers pointed out, he could have achieved 
more for himself as well as to have enlarged his field 
of usefulness. 

As to this question, why he remained in the seclu- 
sion of a country pastorate, with a meager compensa- 
tion which must always be supplemented from his own 
labor on the farm, the answer is two-fold ; first, he was 
of an exceedingly timid nature. He never outlived that 
impulse that thrust him through a window and out 
into the wood after his first effort at Bethel. He was 
afraid of the city; and in the second place he loved 
the country people and the country churches with 
all the ardor of his being. They were his people, his 
neighbors, and they loved him. Why should he leave 
them and go among strangers to face the unknown and 
uncertain relationship with gloomy forebodings of a 
"drifting preacher, the product of a capricious pulpit 

Speaking from the viewpoint of those who were 
his neighbors and who lived within the radius of his 
travels I feel that his choice was a wise one. He was 
happy and contented among his own people which 
means more than money or the things money will buy. 
And, on the other hand, who can tell about the influence 
of his ministry and life? Surely few rural communi- 
ties are blessed with the service of so great and good 
a man as he. Who can ever know how many lives have 
been inspired and spurred to active determination who 
might have been content to drift along with the cur- 
rent of the commonplace? 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 91 

One can hardly imagine a more happy condition in 
rural church life than for each group of churches to 
be guided by a hand so skilful and instructed by a 
teacher so wise as L. P. Gwaltney. Think of being able 
to attend the service of a small country church each 
appointed day from year to year and sit at the feet 
of a man equal in most respect and superior in a great 
many to the preachers who fill the great metropolitan 
pulpits ! Yet that is exactly what many of my own 
neighbors enjoyed for more than fifty years. 



Just what are the elements of greatness in a 
preacher? What are those qualities and attainments 
that set him apart and designate him as great? Re- 
quirements generally prescribed, of course, are per- 
sonality, learning, sincerity, wisdom, ability to hold 
the attention and drive home conviction ; originality, 
poise, discretion, and, as Andy would say, all that 
stuff. But in a final analysis is it not a fact that, to 
every one of us, the great preacher is he who most 
nearly fulfills our own personal ideal? The preacher 
who appeals to us most is to us a great preacher, and 
very few of us ever stop to inquire whether he has 
or has not any of the prescribed qualifications. And, 
after all, might not a wooden Indian have a high 
standing when measured by these requirements? 

It may be because Parks Gwaltney was my near 
neighbor in my childhood days and that I was asso- 
ciated with him all my life and knew him in his every- 
day life, and in his character at close range he became 

92 The School Of The Prophets 

my ideal preacher, or it may be that, because he so 
nearly fulfilled my preconceived conception of what a 
preacher should be he appealed to me more powerfully, 
perhaps, than any other man whom I have ever known, 
at least any other preacher. 

But whatever the reason for my personal convic- 
tion, I am going to say that, of all the preachers whom 
I have ever heard, Parks Gwaltney was the greatest. 
I say this, too, after mature deliberation and in the 
face of the fact that it has been my pleasure to hear 
some of the world's outstanding divines. 

To begin with, he had a most masterly grasp upon 
the Word of God. Few men, indeed, within my knowl- 
edge had delved as deeply into the great mines of 
golden truth as he. The Bible to him was first in value 
and importance. It was God's voice, a "conscript of 
His will and a revelation of His character". He sought 
persistently but very reverently to know the mind of 
God as it is recorded in the Word. He sought the aid 
of great Bible scholars, was a close student and read 
with care as well as discrimination. He rarely ever 
forgot what he read and as a result his mind became 
a great storehouse, orderly arranged and easily acces- 
sible at all times. 

He had, when a young man, determined to make 
his mind serve him, and so through the years he con- 
tinued to demand of it a ready and efficient service. 
I heard him say privately to a friend that when he 
was in the prime of his mature manhood he could ar- 
range an outline, divide it into its subordinate heads 
and then stand in the pulpit and see every division 
and every sub-division of the arrangement clear to 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 93 

the end of the discourse at one time, just as one looks 
down a long, straight, open road. 

He never used notes or manuscript. His. mind 
worked with the precision of an engine and with the 
velocity of a flash of light. His speech was clear but 
swift and one must think fast to stay in line with his 
thought. His. vocabulary was large while his ability 
to select from it the exact word most nearly expres- 
sive of his thought and at the same time most eupho- 
nious made him a most pleasing speaker. 

Dr. B. H. Carroll speaking before a body of Texas 
preachers described the ungainly appearance of that 
prince of Welch preachers, Christmas. Evans, with a 
short leg and but one eye, added, "But 0, my soul, 
how that man could preach! Gentlemen! Gentlemen! 
I would rather be able to preach to lost souls like 
Christmas Evans could preach than to be the author of 
every speculative vagary since Epicurus died, and all 
the flimsy higher criticism that ever evidenced a pal- 
sied grasp of faith". 

Dr. Carroll's words very aptly express my own 
feeling with reference to L. P. Gwaltney as a preacher. 
How often have I felt while listening to that most 
remarkable man preach that I had rather be able to 
speak with the power and unction accompanying his 
ministry than to own all the wealth of the world or 
to command all the armies of the world. Gwaltney's 
power was evidenced when he arose to speak, even 
before he uttered a word. An effect which no one can 
describe or account for was produced in an audience 
by his personality, or his presence or the fact that he 
was about to speak. I have attended district meetings 

94 The School Of The Prophets 

where numerous speakers were present and where the 
subjects under discussion required long hours. I have 
observed the weary expression on the faces of the tired 
and restless crowd and understood what produced it. 

Then I have seen Parks Gwaltney quietly and, as 
a rule, reluctantly, arise to speak. I cannot describe 
the transformation that took place in the audience. 
I only know that it did take place and that a tired, in- 
different crowd suddenly became wide-awake, eager, 
expectant. I do not know what it was, or where it 
came from. One had to be present to feel and to see 
the thing I am writing about. 

Before he had finished speaking men who, a little 
while ago, were tired to the point of rebellion and 
rudeness found themselves leaning forward in their 
seats eager to hear every word and afraid to move 
lest they miss some part of the discourse. 

Some years ago I was standing in the church yard 
at Zion down in the corner of Iredell County talking 
with some elderly men who remembered Gwaltney in 
his younger, more vigorous days. They told me of a 
meeting they attended there and related the following 
incident : 

Gwaltney was preaching at eleven o'clock. A great 
crowd had gathered, such a crowd that there was not 
enough room under the old arbor to accommodate it. 
Many were lounging about the grounds and not a few 
were perched upon a rail fence which surrounded the 
grounds. Among these was a man who had begun to 
grow old in sin. If he had not been actually hostile 
in his attitude toward religion he had been exceed- 
ingly indifferent. Now he sat on the fence more, per- 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 95 

haps, to be with the crowd than to hear a sermon. 
Gwaltney was preaching on the subject of the final 
judgment and as he described the scenes of that great 
day as only he could describe them, the man was seen 
to tremble ; and as the preacher grew more and more 
eloquent and more and more powerful the poor man 
tumbled from the fence as if stricken down by some 
powerful unseen hand, and cried aloud in alarm. 

It was my pleasure to attend what the brethren 
term a Fifth Sunday Meeting at Three Forks, on the 
fifth Sunday in May, 1908. Mr. Gwaltney was to 
preach and when the hour arrived the large house was 
packed with people from all the surrounding country. 

I have before me two diaries, one kept by myself 
and the other by the Rev. Gwaltney. In the diary of 
Gwaltney I find the following brief and modest nota- 
tion : "Fifth Sunday in May. Three Forks. Preached 
to a large crowd on wounded head of the beast and 
pouring out of the vials of wrath. The solemn occa- 
sion of my life". 

In my own diary, written the next day, I find the 
following statement: "Fifth Sunday in May. Went to 
Three Forks. * * * Heard Parks Gwaltney preach. He 
used the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Revela- 
tions as a basis for his sermon — the wounded head of 
the beast and the pouring out of the vials. The ser- 
mon was one of the greatest of his. life. His language 
was faultless, his voice clear and musical, his thoughts 
sublime, unclouded and, to add to the fact that he was 
fully in control of his subject, the fact that he knows, 
the book of Revelation as few men in this country 
know it, and that he was passionately in earnest made 

96 The School Of The Prophets 

it one of the greatest he ever preached and the great- 
est I have ever heard". 

As I write these lines I am reminded that twenty- 
eight years have winged their flight and gone since 
that notation was made in my diary; yet I am more 
thoroughly convinced now that I have never yet heard 
the equal of that sermon than I was then. Up to this 
good day I have never heard a sermon so powerful 
in its delivery or one that evinced so great a grasp of 
the subject. I have never, I believe, seen a crowd so 
completely absorbed, so eagerly attentive or so deeply 

When I hear the words "What is truth?" I imme- 
diately think of Parks Gwaltney; for I think of that 
text as "Parks Gwaltney's text". Back in 1907 the 
Federal Government created a commission to investi- 
gate child labor in cotton mills. Mr. Thomas Dawley, 
Jr., of New York, a very brilliant and accomplished 
gentleman, was sent to North Carolina for the inves- 
tigation here. Mr. Dawley published a book contain- 
ing his findings and along with the report there are 
many other things of interest. He devotes a chapter 
to his visit to Taylorsville and the cotton mill at Lile- 
down, owned then by Rev. J. W. Watts, of whom he 
speaks in the highest terms. In this chapter there is 
found the following reference to L. P. Gwaltney: 

"I attended services at one of the little churches 
[in Taylorsville] and listened to a sermon that far ex- 
celled many I have heard delivered from some of our 
large metropolitan pulpits. The gray-haired minis- 
ter with flowing beard, took for his text the thirty- 
eighth verse of the eighteenth chapter of St. John, 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 97 

'What is Truth?' He drew a word picture of Christ 
before Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, when he 
went out to the Jews and said, 'I find no fault in him 
at all.' There was no shouting, particularly at the 
wrong place, no hysterical shouting to 'come and be 
saved', but the sermon was a simple, sane Bible les- 
son in a style of oratory that was natural and un- 

Humility is one of the most beautiful and lovely 
virtues. There is such a thing, however, and most of 
us have observed it, as wearing the garb of humility 
and at the same time speaking in the language of dif- 
fidence, especially when a selfis.h purpose is best served 
thereby, while in reality the heart is full of arrogance, 
self-sufficiency and pride. Many men may be able to 
speak in the language of Gilead who cannot frame to 
pronounce the word "Shibboleth". 

But if there is such a thing in the world as a truly 
humble man, I believe Parks Gwaltney was one. I do 
not wish to be understood as saying that he did not 
hold strong convictions about things or that he would 
be swayed in his convictions by public opinion, or that 
he would surrender a conviction where principle was 
involved. Quite to the contrary, he held, like the needle 
to the pole, to those fundamentals of the Christian 
faith as taught in the Scripture and was ready to de- 
clare them or to defend them with all the power he pos- 

And woe to them who joined battle with him! 
"When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid". 
When he heard the sound of a going in the tops of 
the mulberry trees, then he began to bestir himself 

98 The School Of The Prophets 

and the Lord went out before him to smite the hosts 
of the Philistines. When those blue eyes began to 
shine like two bright stars and he touched his fore- 
head with the tips of his fingers as if to turn on an 
electrfc current there was always "thunderings and 
lightnings and a mighty earthquake". Lay thine hand 
upon him, remember the battle, do no more". And 
when the smoke of battle cleared away one could only 
exclaim, "How the mighty are fallen!" There was no 
breaking through his defense, just as there was no 
escape from his shot and shell. 

But whether in debate or in personal conversation, 
Parks Gwaltney was too refined to be rude or unkind 
or unfair. He was the embodiment of Christian cour- 
tesy and benevolent in the highest degree. 

Very few men whom I have known were so com- 
pletely self-emptied and so entirely dependent upon 
the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have been search- 
ing in his diary recently and, knowing him as I did, 
I am not surprised to find oft repeated expressions of 
this deep sense of need. Quite often he had written, 
at the end of a paragraph, such sentences as these : 
"0, for power from on high for this month !" "Lord, 
increase a dependent faith in me, more and more." 
"O, for more of the Spirit each time I preach." "0, 
Spirit, do not leave us to ourselves. O, to be emptied 
of self, so the Spirit may come in." And on one occa- 
sion when he was about to start to an appointment 

he had written : "Lord, direct, if I am to go to T 

tomorrow". And again, "Lord, let me have thy pres- 
ence today. Do ! Do ! If Thy presence go not with me, 
send us not up hence". 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 99 

Here are two expressions found in the diary which 
are typical and which, it seems to me, serve to show 
the sowing and the reaping as expressed by the Psalm- 
ist in the words, "He that goeth forth with weeping, 
bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with 
rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Or the pre- 
ceding expression : "They that sow in tears, shall reap 
in joy." 

"Now I go from here to Bethany and New Hope. 
Lord, prosper the journey, Lord do, for Jesus' sake. I 
pray for health, for journeying mercy and 0, for the 
Spirit's power to preach, to awaken men and to save 
the lost." And the second quotation is upon his. re- 
turn and at the end of the month. "A happy month of 
great spiritual blessing. To Him be all the glory!" 

The same spirit of humility characterized him in 
his association with his brethren. I can hardly think 
that he did not realize that he was a more able preach- 
er than the average of his day, but I can say, that, 
insofar as anything he ever said or did in my presence 
is concerned, no one could suspect that it had ever oc- 
curred to him. 

L. P. Gwaltney's presence in the pew was a bene- 
diction to any preacher who stood before him. If 
there is. such a thing as an "eloquent listener" he was 
that. And he gave the most sympathetic and prayerful 
attention to every one, whether he happened to be an 
old man without attainments or a young man without 
experience. I think almost anyone could preach with 
power if he had an audience made up of men and 
women who could listen like Parks Gwaltney. 

Mr. Gwaltney has helped a large number of young 

100 The School Of The Prophets 

preachers on their way to success by his. sympathetic 
interest in them. His life, his kindly advice and his 
ready instruction have greatly strengthened and en- 
couraged many a young, struggling preacher, many of 
whom are living today and doing great good, and all 
of them with whom I am acquainted are sincere in 
their gratitude and warm in their affections toward 
him for the influence he wielded over their lives. 

"If I could preach like he can I would never dread 
to preach." We often hear words like the above, and 
I have heard them many times with reference to Parks 
Gwaltney. Yet he did dread the task more, it seems to 
me, than anyone whom I have ever known. He ap- 
proached the hour when he must "stand between the 
living and the dead" with solemn awe, as all preach- 
ers do, or should, but his deep sense of responsibility 
overwhelmed him. Just before the moment came for 
him to preach he would be so anxious and so deeply 
solicitous for the results of the service he would often 
groan audibly and one near him could hear his whis- 
pered prayer, "Lord, help me this once again". 

Not infrequently he would approach some friend 
in the audience and earnestly request that he be re- 
membered in prayer while he preached. I do not think 
his dread grew out of a fear of the people, nor yet from 
a fear that he might not be able to say what he planned 
to say, but rather that he was burdened with a sense 
of his terrible responsibility, as a preacher of the gos- 
pel ; for the faithfulness with which he delivered the 
message. He "had respect unto the recompense of re- 
ward" and desired to be "clear from the blood of all 
men". I have felt often that his anxiety and travail 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 101 

of soul amounted to actual suffering as a man in men- 
tal anguis.h 01 physical pain. 

But after he announced a text and "launched out 
into the deep" he seemed to forget the dread. In fact 
he seemed to forget everything about him, save that 
he was surrounded by men and women, made in the 
stamp and image of God, who would soon be in the 
grave and that he had a message from God to them 
that would determine all the destinies of this life and 
the life to come. 

And how the man could preach. With what power, 
what eloquence! What an outflowing and overflowing 
of dynamic appeal! With what vehement desire and 
with what passion of spirit and yearning of soul ! No 
man could sit under the power of his gospel and not 
be stirred to the depths unless, indeed, he were either 
helplessly irresponsible or hopelessly hardened. 

It was, perhaps in the summer of 1905 or 1906. 
The revival meeting was in progress at my home 
church. Parks Gwaltney was a visitor for the week, 
his home being only a mile or so distant from the 
church. The meeting had been in progress all week 
and Friday had come with only a little interest mani- 
fested. The brethren were gloomy as to the outcome 
of the meeting. Something had been said about closing 
that day. 

There were, attending the meeting, a large num- 
ber of young men who, it seemed, were drifting heed- 
lessly down the turbulent stream that carries men to 
ruin. There were also older men, growing more and 
more careless and indifferent as the years rolled on, 
some of whom had, it seemed, become hardened against 

102 The School Of The Prophets 

the gospel appeal. Friday afternoon Gwaltney was 
prevailed upon to preach. He consented and after an- 
nouncing the text which I cannot recall, being only 
fifteen years of age and very little concerned myself 
in such things, he began to talk and as he talked he 
grew more and more eloquent and more and more 

He stood there like some messenger from another 
world and those who heard him saw in him the stern 
judge bearing the issues, of life and death. They saw 
the lightnings as they played about the heights of 
Sinai and heard the muttering thunder of advancing 
vengeance. They saw the throne of judgment set and 
themselves standing with naked souls before the pierc- 
ing eye of Him whose voice was as the sound of many 
waters. They saw, too, the beckoning hand of mercy 
as from Golgotha's hill and heard the tender appeal 
from far back across the ages, "Turn sinner, turn, for 
why will ye die?" 

Parks Gwaltney was the flaming ambassador for 
Christ, praying them in Christ's stead to become recon- 
ciled to God. It was as if he were saying, "You must 
make the decision today, tomorrow will be too late! 
You dare not decide against God and against your own 
souls, but you will decide for eternity today! Come!" 

Perhaps he did not s.peak more than twenty min- 
utes, but when the invitation was given they came! 
Young men, resolving to live lives of service ; old men, 
awakened from years of slumber. They came troop- 
ing down to the altar and saying as one of old, "Men 
and brethren, what shall we do to be saved". 

I have never heard or felt anything approaching 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 103 

this appeal. No man can describe it. Unless one heard 
for himself he can never understand. No, I have never 
heard anything like it since and what is more, I never 
expect to hear anything- like it again. 

There were certain words and phrases which, when 
spoken by Parks Gwaltney, took on a new significance 
and added force. He often used the expression, "0, 
my hearer!" and to hear him say those words was to 
get a new revelation of the power of human expression. 
It was one of those things which one never forgets. 

Once he was describing a sleeping city where fire 
was eating its way into the buildings. Some early riser 
discovered the fire and gave the alarm : "Fire ! Fire ! 
Fire !" I was listening attentively to the description 
and wishing I could paint pictures like that when the 
alarm came. I do not know how it happened, but I 
almost leaped out of my seat, and when I got hold of 
myself and looked around to see if anyone had seen my 
movement I soon discovered that I was not the only 
man in the audience hastily shuffling back into posi- 
tions of dignity. 

Beneath a modest shaft in the old churchyard at 
Sulphur Springs sleeps the body of a great man. Only 
the words of simple record are found on the granite, 
indicating the birth and passing of L. Parks Gwalt- 
ney. Soon a new generation will pass that way to 
look upon the simple inscription and remark, "This 
is the grave of one of the pioneer Baptist preachers 
of this mountain country". How many of them will 
know that no more brilliant mind or eloquent tongue 

104 The School Of The Prophets 

in our beloved state is held within the charnel confines 
of the tomb? 

The end came, after a lingering illness, at his. home 
in Taylorsville on December 2nd, 1925. The funeral 
was held at the Baptist church there, conducted by the 
pastor, Rev. E. V. Bumgarner. He used as a text the 
thirty-eighth verse of the third chapter of Second 
Samuel, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a 
great man fallen in Israel today?" 

The text was, indeed, an appropriate one. The 
preacher paid a glowing tribute to the life and minis- 
try of the man who had fallen. People from all parts 
of the surrounding country came to offer their tribute 
of love and esteem for the man whom they had so de- 
lighted to hear. Only a portion of the great crowd 
found room within the building and so they stood with- 
out and patiently waited to follow the funeral cortege 
to the place of interment. 

I stood one day by the resting place of this man 
in the lonely, silent city of the dead and in reverence 
I drifted back across the hills of time to other days. 
Once again I felt myself in the presence of a gigantic 
intellect as dynamic as the unleashed forces of the 
thunder cloud and as keen as the Damascus blade of 
two edges. I was once again attracted and drawn by 
a magnetic personality, pleasing, courteous, strong. 
I saw the flashing eye, as in the long ago, like the 
sparkling of a flawless diamond. Once again I heard 
the charming smoothness of a voice lifted in tenderest 
appeal like the tones of a thousand silver chimes. 

I heard the old orator, standing alone and above 
all by which he was surrounded like the tall mountain 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 105 

whose summit pierces the clouds where eternal sun- 
shine warms the springs of life. I heard again the 
roll and flow of an oratory, rippling at times like the 
mountain rivulet and then again thundering and crash- 
ing and bounding like an Alpine avalanche sweeping 
all before it. 

I awoke from my reverie and lo, it was but the 
whispering zephyrs in the pine trees, wafting back to 
me memories, memories of other days. Reality stood 
before me, stern, cold, relentless. He flung at me a 
challenge and with it a threat: "Go!" he said, "You 
are not in the land of dreams but in the Kingdom of 
Reality!" And then with stern face and piercing eye 
he said, "Go and fill the little niche in the great struc- 
ture of human achievement for which you are fitted. 
If you cannot shine as the sun, shine as a candle. If 
you lack the charm of the orator, speak the plain 
words of sincerity. But go ! and if you fail, yes, if 
you fail, He hath appointed a day in which he will 
judge — you — in righteousness". 


The fine art of conversation, if it be an art, is one 
of the rarest accomplishments, if it be an accomplish- 
ment. It is my personal and probably worthless opin- 
ion that conversationalists are born, not made. 

I have met only one man in my life who I thought 
was the equal of Parks Gwaltney as a charming enter- 
tainer. I shall not mention names here, but it has been 
my rare good pleasure to sit and listen to these two 

106 The School Of The Prophets 

men talk. It was like having both hands full of honey. 

Why is it that people will gather round one man to 
hear him talk while the same crowd will cross the street 
to the other side just to avoid having to hear another 
man talk? It can hardly be said that culture alone is 
the reason for the difference. We have seen some of 
the most highly cultured men who were lame in this 
art to the point of embarrassment. We have also met 
with men who had very little "book learning", just 
plain every-day folks, who could hold us like a vise 
without seeming to put forth any effort to be interest- 
ing or even seeming to know that they were engaging. 
L. P. Gwaltney was not only a gripping conversa- 
tionalist, sparkling, radiant, fascinating, but he had 
that fine tact of adapting himself to the environment. 
He was at home among the most humble, and made 
everyone else feel the same way, but he was equally 
at ease and conversed with the same irresistible charm 
among the most exacting culture. 

A neighbor told me not long ago of a preacher 
who went to visit a home rather by accident than by 
appointment. The man of the house was tired and 
the good woman was not expecting company. When 
they learned that the preacher intended to stay over 
night the husband said to the wife, "I would give five 
dollars if he had gone somewhere else". 

But the preacher made himself so agreeable, en- 
tertaining the children and radiating so much cheer, 
that it was late in the night before they realized it. 
The next morning they stood on the porch and waved 
the preacher farewell and the husband said to the wife, 
"I would not have missed that visit for five dollars". 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 107 

Some people are like that. That quality, whatever 
it is, that holds one and makes one sorry when the 
happy moments of fellowship are gone, is not learned 
in school any more than the color of one's eyes is deter- 
mined by the weather. One never loses the influence 
of the contact with a man like that. Personality plus 
the religion of Jesus is the most magnetic influence in 
the world. 

I have never met and talked with Parks Gwaltney 
without feeling a renewed desire to be a better man. 
Who knows but that in that great day for which all 
days were made it shall be found that the daily life 
and conduct of even a great preacher will count for 
more in the giving out of rewards than the sermons 
he has preached? 

When Jesus saw Nathaniel he said of him, "Behold 
an Israelite, indeed, in whom is no guile". Webster 
defines the word guile as meaning, for one thing, de- 
ceit. Peter admonishes the scattered strangers to re- 
frain the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking 
guile. Frankness, innate truthfulness, is the first es- 
sential to goodness as well as to greatness. 

I care not what a man's attainments may be or 
how exalted his station, he slides down to zero in the 
estimation of the average person as soon as deceit is 
detected in him. If one cannot be sure that one is tell- 
ing the truth, at least as he believes it, how can he in- 
fluence one for good? 

Some time ago I heard an evangelist relate a story 
three times in the course of a month. Each time he re- 
lated it the details were so contradictory and so posi- 
tively irreconcilable that I decided none of it was true. 

108 The School Of The Prophets 

The story was an experience of his own. A brilliant 
young man related a story in my presence, beginning 
with, "as I walked down the street in . . ." Then he 
related the incident as if it had all occurred in his 
own experience. I knew very well I had that story in 
a book of illustrations at home and that the story was 
at least a hundred years old. 

There seems to have developed in certain circles 
a kind of speaker's license to appropriate other men's 
experiences as their own. But to save my life I am 
not able to see how a public speaker, especially a 
preacher, has a better right to lie than anyone else. 

I stand today on the hill top of life looking over 
toward the setting sun and as I reflect upon the happy 
association with Parks Gwaltney, Jay Gwaltney and 
Daniel Poole, not only in the ministry but in the rela- 
tion of neighbor and friend, I am compelled to admit 
that my greatest admiration for these men has grown 
out of my feeling of perfect confidence in them. They 
were sincere and truthful by instinct. 

A preacher had better go down in failure; better 
let his name trail in the dust of ignominious defeat and 
sink into everlasting oblivion than lose the confidence 
of his fellowmen by venturing one single statement 
that he knows is not the truth. We shall all make mis- 
takes, but a mistake is a thousand times better than 
studied duplicity. 

Did these men make mistakes? Who does not? Yet 
if they told you about some happening, some experi- 
ence, if they confided to you a secret, if they made you 
a promise; if they offered a criticism or ventured a 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 109 

compliment: write it down in ink. It was just exactly 
that way. 

Gwaltney and myself were riding together on our 
way to the Briar Creek Association along about the 
fall of 1907. We crossed Hunting Creek on the cov- 
ered bridge at Campbell's Mill and after climbing the 
hill to the north, Gwaltney pointed out an old house 
place where then there were only a tree or two and 
a pile of rocks which had once been a chimney. 

He explained that this was once the home of the 
Jennings family, the grandfather of J. T. Jennings, 
and that on account of its proverbial hospitality it be- 
came known as the "Preachers Hotel". 

Then he related an amusing incident of his early 
ministry while attending an Association at Zion, as 
follows : 

All the preachers attending the Association num- 
bering perhaps fifteen or more were invited to spend 
the night at the Jennings home. After the evening meal 
they all sat on the porch and talked till late in the 
night, then they were shown to their sleeping apart- 
ment which proved to be the entire upper story of 
the "big house" with all the furniture removed, straw 
covering the floor while sheets had been spread over 
the straw. The weather was warm and this arrange- 
ment was all they needed to be comfortable. 

The brethren retired but instead of sleeping they 
resumed the conversation and continued to talk till 
after midnight. Finally some brother made a motion. 
He said, "Brethren, I move we quit talking and go to 
sleep". Another brother seconded the motion and the 
former spokesman added, "Are there any further re- 

110 The School Of The Prophets 

marks?" Whereupon another brother said, "Mr. Chair- 
man, I wish to make a few remarks". And so the way 
was opened for more talk. As a result the brethren 
talked till morning and, after breakfast, went back to 
the Association without a wink of sleep. 

While engaged in a revival meeting at Taylor 
Springs many years ago, along with a number of other 
preachers, Parks Gwaltney was approached by Hamp 
Rupart with the request that he be allowed to take one 
of the services and preach. Now Hamp Rupart was 
a half-wit, although he succeeded, without trying, in 
supplying the whole country with something to laugh 
about for many years. 

Hamp, of course, could not preach, but he was seized 
and holden of one grand hallucination : he lived and 
died under the belief that he was called to preach. 
Gwaltney said to him, "No, Hamp, there are several 
big preachers here and little fellows like you and me 
will have to keep quiet". Then Hamp got mad. He 
said, "I know what is the matter with you, you just 
don't want me to preach because you want to preach 
your own self. And let me tell you something, you 
can't preach no better than I can. You just rip and 
snort and tear your old throat and that's all you do". 

Once upon a time in a session of the Association 
the subject arose as to the value, if any, of the degree 
of D. D. attached to one's name. The discussion be- 
came spirited and the subject out of which it had grown 
was sidetracked for a time. Gwaltney took no part in 
the debate until some one called him out, requesting 
that he express his opinion. He reluctantly arose and 
said : "Brother Moderator, and brethren, I am not an 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 111 

authority on the subject, but in my humble judgment, 
in so far as the value of the degree to a preacher is 
concerned, it is to a preacher exactly what the curl 
in a pig's tail is to the ham". 

It is related, probably as a joke only and not act- 
ually true, that Parks Gwaltney went on one occasion 
to visit at the home of Jay Gwaltney and, at Jay's 
suggestion, they went fishing. The fish were biting fine 
and they were having great fun when Mrs. Gwaltney 
sent some one to call them to dinner. They hurried 
home, sat down to the table and Jay began to eat. Mrs. 
Gwaltney said, "Are you not ashamed of yourself, Jay? 
are you going to eat dinner and not ask a blessing be- 
fore you eat? 7 ' And Jay answered, "Who in the world 
has time to ask a blessing while the fish are biting as 
they are today?" 

Once upon a time Jay Gwaltney and Journey Wood- 
ward were chasing a fox away down on the Harris 
Ridges when the dogs got away from them and ran 
entirely out of hearing. They followed on till they 
came to where a man was working in the field whom 
they asked, "Have you heard any dogs pass this way?" 
The man slowly looked up from his work and said, 
"Yes, there were some dogs passed through this field". 
They asked him which direction the dogs had gone and 
he replied, "I never paid any attention." After Journey 
and Jay had gotten out of earshot of the man, Jay 
turned to Journey and said, "Journey, that man would 
steal corn !" 

Once Parks Gwaltney was riding across the Brushy 
Mountains on his way to an appointment when he met 
a lad in the road to whom he said, "Howdy, Son". The 

112 The School Of The Prophets 

boy stood like a stone and said nothing but fixed his 
eyes on the preacher's face and steadily gazed. Gwalt- 
new asked him whose son he was and where he lived 
and several other questions, to all of which the boy 
replied not a word. Finally Gwaltney started on, be- 
lieving that there was something wrong with the boy's 
head, when all of a sudden the boy exclaimed, "Hell, 
what a beard!" 

Jay Gwaltney used to tell of an old gentleman by 
the name of Copeland Mitchell, the father of the Alex- 
ander County Mitchells who lived on a farm adjoining 
the Gwaltney homestead. One Sunday morning, bright 
and early, a certain citizen was passing through the 
Mitchell farm, following a path through the woods and 
fields when he was startled by the sharp crack of a 
rifle. Before he had proceeded far another shot rang 
out in the still Sabbath morning air, and soon another. 
The man hastened on in the direction of the shots and 
soon came upon Mr. Mitchell standing at the foot of a 
large tree looking intently up into its branches. 

His face wore a perplexed and somewhat disgusted 
expression and, upon observing the neighbor he ex- 
claimed, "Do you see that squirrel sitting up there on 
that limb as plain as the nose on a man's face? Well, 
by gum, I can't hit him. I can see the bullet go right 
up to within an inch of his head and then 'zoong', it 
curves right around him". 

As an example of extreme stinginess Uncle Jay 
Gwaltney related the following incident: 

There lived in Alexander County a colored boy by 
the name of Charl Redmond, or "Chad Sy". He was 
a strange sort of a man with some sense but consider- 

Leroy Parks Gwaltney 113 

ably short on the score of dignity. He decided to get 
married and requested Uncle Jay to say the words that 
would make them legally man and wife. Uncle Jay 
complied with the request and when the ceremony was 
over Charl asked what the charge would be. Uncle 
Jay replied that there was no charge, but that he usual- 
ly expected enough to enable him to mail the license 
back to the office of the Register of Deeds. 

Charl asked how much that would be and when 
informed that it would be two cents he fished in his 
pockets a long time and produced a nickel and, holding 
it up to view, said, "Can you change that?" 

When the county of Alexander was organized from 
a strip of Iredell and the county jail was built, the first 
man to be incarcerated therein was one Calve Hum- 
phrey, an eccentric but witty character who had been 
apprehended upon some minor charge. A group of 
young fellows with Jay Gwaltney as spokesman went 
to Taylorsville to see the jail where they made the ac- 
quaintance of Mr. Humphrey. They asked him why 
he had been placed in jail and he replied, "Well, it was 
this way : I stole a sawmill and got by with that, but 
when I went back after the mill dam they caught me". 
The young fellows asked him how he liked to stay in 
prison and he replied, "Oh, I liked it fine! Taylors- 
ville is a good place to stay. It produces a barrel of 
seed ticks to the acre and black snakes enough to fence 
it in". 

Many years after the Civil War Jay Gwaltney was 
sitting one day in the courthouse at Taylorsville when 
a man whom he took to be a stranger came and, throw- 
ing his arm about the preacher's neck, exclaimed, 

114 The School Of The Prophets 

"Don't you know me, Jay?" and being assured that he 
did not know him he said, "You are the man who car- 
ried me wounded from the danger zone and to safety 
and help at the battle of Gettysburg". His gratitude 
was so sincere and his joy at seeing him again after so 
many years so exquisite that he could not refrain from 
tears. Jay Gwaltney afterwards used this instance to 
illustrate the blessedness of doing good to others and 
the reward which comes to us in the knowledge of hav- 
ing helped some fellow traveler along the rough and 
toilsome pathway of life. 


Rev. Daniel W. Poole 


I feel some delicacy in writing a biographical sketch 
of my father-in-law and shall, therefore, refrain from 
writing a lengthly account of his life and labors. Yet 
I do not hesitate to include his name in the little book 
since it is entitled The School of the Prophets and he 
was one member of the trio who originated the Bible 
Study Course, so named. For many years L. P. and 
J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole were the only ones 
attending the school. 

Daniel Wilson Poole was born in Alexander County, 
North Carolina, June 21, 1851. He was a son of Rev. 
William Poole and Mrs. Mary Poole who, before her 
marriage, was Miss Mary Austin. 

The Pooles were of English stock, coming from 
England to Wales and from Wales to America, as the 
following bit of history will show. The name was first 
spelled Pole and later Pool and generally now, Poole. 

Reginald Pole of England was a grand nephew of 
King Edward, IV, of England. He was a Roman Catho- 
lic. He wrote a book on the divorce question which 
enraged King Henry, VIII, who summoned Pole to ap- 
pear before him. Pole refused to appear and invited 
the King to reply to the book if he could. Whereupon 
the King summoned Pole to appear to answer the 
charge of treason. 

Upon the death of Pope Paul, III, Reginald Pole was 
elected Pope but owing to the enmity of the king he 


118 The School Of The Prophets 

was never allowed to take his seat, being accused of 
heresy. The king later ordered his mother and family 
placed in prison where they were beheaded. (1541). A 
young brother, William Pole, escaped and went to 
Wales where he changed the spelling of his name to 
Pool. He married in Wales and reared a family, two 
of his grandsons subsequently coming to America, and 
settling in Virginia. The grandsons were Alexander 
and William. 

Alexander Poole moved from Virginia to Pennsyl- 
vania. William remained in Virginia near where the 
city of Petersburg now stands. He married a Miss 
Ward and to this union were born eight sons and one 
daughter. The eldest son was killed in the Revolu- 
tionary War. William Poole died in Virginia and soon 
afterward his widow moved with her children to Ran- 
dolph County, N. C. There the daughter married a 
Baptist minister by the name of Swanson. The sons, 
all but one, moved to various sections of Eastern North 
Carolina, to Georgia and to South Carolina. The young- 
est son, Jesse, married Miss Elizabeth King in 1795 
in Randolph County and moved to what is now Alex- 
ander County. Here they reared a family of three sons 
and one daughter. The sons were Jesse, James and 

William Poole married Miss Mary Austin of Alex- 
ander County. They reared a family of six sons and 
five daughters. The sons were Jesse, who died Feb. 
5, 1841, Nathan, James B., William A., Christopher C, 
and Daniel W. The daughters were Nancy, Naomi, 
Elizabeth, Rebecca and Isabella. 

Not a great many families can boast of five preach- 

Daniel Wilson Poole 119 

ers. There were four sons of William Poole, himself 
a preacher, who became preachers. They were Chris- 
topher C, James B., William A., and Daniel W. 

After the death of Mrs. William Poole, Mr. Poole 
married Miss Rebecca Hendren and to them were born 
two sons, J. J. H. and Elzy Poole. 

Rev. D. W. Poole made a profession of religion at 
the age of thirteen years and united with the Baptist 
church at Antioch. He attended free school at Elen- 
dale and later entered high school at Taylorsville under 
William Davis. He also attended the school at Sul- 
phur Springs taught by Prof. George Greene. He fol- 
lowed the teaching profession for a number of years, 
teaching at Elendale, Walnut Grove and Vashti. In the 
meantime he studied law but being impressed with a 
call to the ministry he abandoned the study of law 
and began preparation for the ministry. 

He was ordained at the age of thirty years. The 
ordination took place at Bethel, 1880, to which church 
he had moved his membership. His first charge was 
Pilgrim church where he was pastor for a number of 
years. It will not be out of place, I think, to say here 
that Pilgrim church will celebrate its hundredth an- 
niversary this year, 1936. Within the forty odd years 
of his ministry he served as pastor, Antioch, Bethel 
in Alexander, Bethel in Iredell, Cub Creek, Damascus, 
Hams Grove, Macedonia, New Hope, Oak Forest, Oak 
Grove, Pleasant Hill, Pisgah, Sulphur Springs, So- 
ciety, Shady Grove, South River, Three Forks, Ver- 
non, Walnut Grove and probably others. 

D. W. Poole married Miss Charlotte Rufina Wil- 
liams, daughter of Mr. David Williams, March 1, 1876. 

120 The School Of The Prophets 

They reared a family of four sons and five daughters. 
They were Carrie, Bertha, Fred, Florence, Donald, 
Fay, Ralph, Ruby and Edward. 

D. W. Poole was well versed in the Scriptures. There 
was a time in his life when he could call to memory and 
quote with a remarkable degree of accuracy a large 
portion of the Bible and could give the chapter and 
verse of each quotation almost as if he were reading. 
He had made a special study of the generally accepted 
doctrines of the Bible and very few men of my ac- 
quaintance possessed a more sane and sound grasp 
of the fundamental teachings of Scripture than he. 

He was not a dogmatist nor was he in any sense 
intolerant toward the opinions of others; yet he was 
as firm in his convictions as the granite "Bald Rock" 
upon which he could look from his door and as un- 
shakable as the pillars of Hercules in what he thought 
to be the truth as taught in the Bible. 

In common with most rural preachers of his day 
his lot was by no means an easy one. His churches 
were scattered over a wide range of territory with only 
make-shifts for roads. A preacher could take his 
choice between riding in a buggy, on a horse or walk- 
ing. It was not uncommon for D. W. Poole to drive 
through snow and ice, rain and heat for many miles 
to reach his appointment. 

Then, too, church people thought in much smaller 
financial terms in those days. I am not going to say 
whether it is right or wrong for a church to require 
a preacher to render a strict and unremitting service 
with all the arduous toil involved in it and then allow 
him, or rather compel him, to secure his bread some- 

Daniel Wilson Poole 121 

where else and by some other means. Probably there 
are considerations with which I am not acquainted 
that will tend to mitigate the fact at the Judgment; 
yet that is almost, if not exactly, what did happen and 
what is still happening in this country. 

D. W. Poole, however, was never heard to complain. 
I feel that probably a preacher is not only doing him- 
self an injustice but his church an injury by allow- 
ing his modesty to seal his lips on the subject of bread 
and meat. D. W. Poole would have suffered hunger 
and cold to the point of starvation before he would have 
even remotely intimated to the good brethren that his 
renumeration was insufficient to keep soul and body 
traveling in the same direction. 

Poole was one of those indomitable spirits whom 
the elements could not daunt. He put the preaching of 
the gospel first, even before his own interest, includ- 
ing his health. When the time came for him to start 
to his appointments he started ! Nothing could hin- 
der but serious sickness or high water. Snow and ice, 
sleet and storm had no terrors for him. Fortunately, 
he was a man of strong physical manhood. In his 
young days he was considered a very strong and ac- 
tive man. He never had a doctor to see him, I have 
understood, until he was fifty years old and then not 
again, perhaps, for fifteen years. 

Mr. Poole not only went to his appointments, rain 
or shine, but he went ahead of time. He could never 
sit quietly and wait for the hour to go. And this was 
true whether he had twenty miles to travel or only 
one mile with an hour in which to make it. 

Quite often his appointment would be at such a dis- 

122 The School Of The Prophets 

tance he was compelled to leave home on Friday in 
order to reach the church for the Saturday afternoon 
service. Then after the Sunday service he would drive 
as far toward home as he could that day and arrive 
at home on Monday. But he never hesitated a mo- 
ment, nor did he consider the fact that his own work 
at home would be neglected. 

Whatever criticism may be offered, whether of 
praise or of disapprobation of the work of D. W. Poole, 
one fact stands out in all his ministerial career upon 
which all who knew him will agree : his work was a 
work of love. If the spirit of unselfishness — of en- 
tire self-sinking for the sake of others — if sacrificial 
service joyfully rendered is commendable "Uncle Dan- 
iel" Poole deserves the highest esteem; for he laid 
aside his own interests in the interest of others as no 
other man whom I have ever known. 

Daniel Poole was a man of solemn mien. There 
was never a minute of his mature manhood long 
enough for any sort of useless frivolity. He was not 
morose, pessimistic or gloomy. It was his nature to 
view life only from the serious viewpoint. The stern 
and solemn realities of life with all the ever present 
and inescapable responsibilities of living here in this 
earth among men seemed to have determined his at- 
titude and governed his every thought and action. The 
work which he believed God had for him to do was so 
important, so urgent, and he felt his own responsibility 
so greatly that there was little time for things of light- 
er vein. "Whether we be sober it is for your cause" 
would have expressed his attitude very well. 

If I were called upon to name the one most prom- 

Daniel Wilson Poole 123 

inent characteristic or distinctive quality in the min- 
istry of D. W. Poole I would say, without hesitation, 
that it was earnestness. As a prerequisite to a success- 
ful ministry his faith was as simple and as real as 
that of a child and yet as sturdy as the everlasting 
hills. He never seemed to entertain the remotest doubt 
about the eternal verities. Those sable birds of un- 
certainty that flit on ebon wing about most of us in the 
night time, leaving us weak and sometimes distraught 
were unknown to him. The Bible to him was the very 
word of God and he believed himself to be God's am- 
bassador speaking words of authority which should 
determine the eternal destinies of men. 

The facts of orignal sin, of total depravity, the ruin 
of the race ; of God's love for fallen man as expressed 
in the gift of Jesus, the sacrificial and substitutionary 
death on the cross, the all-sufficiency of the blood to 
cleanse and save, the official work and presence of the 
Holy Spirit in the world, the final resurrection of the 
dead and the general judgment, the glorification of 
the saints and the home in heaven; all these he be- 
lieved just as he believed himself to be a living man. 

He spoke, therefore, as one bringing tidings from 
the King, tidings of vital and urgent moment. His 
appeal was not only tender and loving but constant 
and passionate. The issues of eternal life and eternal 
death were involved in his message, as he believed, 
and he spoke, therefore, as a man charged with the 
final destinies of those who heard him. 

His sermons were sane, sound and safe. He never 
flew away after a wild, unscriptural or sensational va- 
gary, even when to do so would have meant a greater 

124 The School Of The Prophets 

following. He did not ask if a thing were popular ; he 
wanted to know only if it were true. He never gave 
back an inch to false doctrines and made no conces- 
sions to, or compromises with, any man, sect, cult or 
belief which he believed unsound. He always had a 
"reason for the faith that was in him". He demanded 
a "thus saith the Lord" for every proposition and was 
abundantly prepared to give the same for his own con- 

Daniel Poole was blessed with success as a rural pas- 
tor. Some of his pastorates covered a period of many 
years and long after his active work was done there 
remained a most tender and affectionate relationship 
between him and those brethren whom he had served. 
He entered into the spirit of the community well-being, 
visiting the sick and remaining in the homes of the 
people where he always found a warm welcome. His 
work was marked by an understanding sympathy that 
made him a place in the warmest affections of thou- 
sands to whom he had ministered. 

If I were called upon to give my opinion as to his 
main, outstanding personal quality I would say it was 
his piety. I am not discussing the goodness of others 
either by inference or by comparison, but I have known 
Daniel Poole all my life, having lived most of my 
childhood, boyhood and young manhood as a neighbor 
to him, and I would not only be doing myself an in- 
justice but I would be leaving out of this sketch the 
one thing upon which all who knew him will agree: 
that he was a man of unusual and extraordinary piety 
and goodness. 

He was as chaste in conversation among men as 

Daniel Wilson Poole 125 

he was in the pulpit before an audience. He was as 
careful what he did on Monday as he was on Sunday. 
His sense of right and wrong was as keen as his 
love for justice and equity was fervent and unchang- 
ing. If a thing was wrong he simply had nothing to 
do with it, and if there were any questions as to the 
propriety of a thing, any uncertainty as to the moral 
right or legal justice of an act he had nothing to do 
with that either. 

"Do not speak harshly of anyone, for in so doing 
you lose the personal touch which might eventually 
result in his reformation. Do not repeat an evil re- 
port, for, in the first place, it may not be true; and 
even if the reports are based in facts, it may be great- 
ly exaggerated ; but if it were entirely true there could 
be no possible value in circulating it." This was the 
social code of ethics of Daniel Poole. He was slow to 
believe evil reports of men and slower to repeat them. 
His implicit faith in men has gotten him out of a good 
horse or two and a few cows, but his peace of mind 
and conscience has more than compensated for the loss. 

It will be observed that in writing of D. W. Poole, I 
have employed verbs of the past tense, although he is 
living and in excellent health for a man in his eighty- 
fifth year. My reason for speaking in terms of the 
past is obvious : his work is in the past. He will never 
serve another church as pastor or labor in the reviv- 
al meetings. His work is done and, as I have a reason 
to believe, done well. 

Rev. and Mrs. Poole are living contentedly at Hid- 
denite, N. C, not many miles from where they were 
born. They have never possessed an abundance of the 

126 The School Of The Prophets 

things of this world ; they have lived economically but 
have never wanted for the necessities of life. They 
have worked hard and have never eaten the bread of 
idleness nor have they ever owned a single farthing 
that did not come by honest means. They owe no man 
and their circle of friends is large, loyal and true. 

When they come to the end of the journey they will 
have very little of a material value to leave behind; 
but influence for good, emanating from lives of unsel- 
fish, sacrificial service and untarnished integrity will 
be of far more value as a lasting heritage than all the 
gold of the miser or the lands of the lordly. 

That which their hands have builded will stand the 
storms of the ages and will be placed in the archives 
of the skies to remain eternal mementos of well spent 
lives while the vanishing power of imperial crowns, the 
sullied glory of the ruthless conqueror and the empty 
honor of the cruel despot shall have forever faded away 
in stygian darkness of voiceless oblivion. 

As the lingering rays of their setting sun illumines 
the far away hills to the west in fadeless colors of celes- 
tial beauty and glory they can look beyond the cloud- 
less horizon and glimpse the placid river, the streams 
whereof shall make glad the City of God. Long ago 
they found the Pearl of Great Price ; moss and rust can- 
not corrupt it, or the ravages of time efface it or the 
fires of judgment destroy it. 



Prof. James W. Hendren was my first public school 
teacher. He, along with his twin brother, John J. 

Daniel Wilson Poole 127 

Hendren, taught for a number of years at Vashti, a 
famous country school back in the 80's. Young men 
and women from adjoining counties as well as from 
all sections of Alexander attended the school. 

I attended a reunion of the former teachers and 
pupils of the old school a few years ago at which Prof. 
James Hendren delivered the principal address. Among 
reminiscences of the old days around Vashti he had 
the following to say : 

"This gathering is made up, in part at least, of 
the old teachers of the Vashti school to which class I 
am supposed to belong. I have been trying to construct 
an alibi by means of which I could pose as a young 
man; but owing to the fact that there are so many 
grandfathers and grandmothers and a few great grand- 
parents who have gone to school to me at one time or 
another, I think I could hardly get by with it. 

"My experience as a teacher extends over a period 
of a half century. During this time I have taught in 
eight different counties in this state and in six differ- 
ent states in the Union. While teaching at this place 
I walked over three thousand miles to and from school ; 
ate approximately two thousand cold biscuits, had the 
measles, the mumps and later, the typhoid fever; was 
thrown from a mule, spent eight years among the In- 
dians without being scalped, got married and am still 

Knowing Mr. Hendren to be a man of culture, dis- 
cretion and sound judgment and knowing him to be 
conservative in his estimates and guarded in his state- 
ments and, also, knowing that he had been closely as- 
sociated with Daniel Poole all his life, I requested him 

128 The School Of The Prophets 

to write a brief statement of his estimate of him so 
that I might use it in closing the sketch. He graciously 
consented to my request and the following pages, re- 
lative to Daniel Poole, are from his pen. 

— The Author. 

By request of the author of this book I am sub- 
mitting this brief sketch of Rev. D. W. Poole. It is 
with sincere pleasure that I recall some of my im- 
pressions of Mr. Poole as a man and minister. Under 
these two captions may be included, I think, all the 
essential traits that go to make up a model character. 
If this little sketch possesses any merit at all, it may 
be attributed to the fact that a long and intimate re- 
lationship has existed between the writer and the sub- 
ject of this article. Mr. Poole is now in his eighty-fifth 
year, seven years my senior, so my acquaintance in- 
cludes his boyhood days, his young manhood and the 
more mature years of his life. 

No one, I am sure, would resent more quickly any- 
thing like fulsome praise or flattery in an appraisal 
of his life than Mr. Poole himself. And I am sure it 
is not my purpose to indulge in such sentiments in 
what I shall have to say. On the other hand I realize 
that we often withhold words of appreciation until 
it is too late — words that might have inspired, en- 
couraged and doubtless would have made life a little 
bit brighter amid the inevitable discouragements in- 
cident to every life. 

Jesus passed very few compliments on his indi- 
vidual followers, but when he did venture a word of 
commendation it was always sincere, appropriate and 

Daniel Wilson Poole 129 

significant in its application. You recall that when 
he saw Nathaniel coming to him he said, "Behold an 
Israelite in whom is no guile". Paraphrasing this 
quotation slightly it can be said, very truly of Mr. 
Poole, "Behold a man in whom there is nothing in- 
sincere or deceptive in a single fiber of his charac- 
ter." His standards and conceptions of right and 
wrong are so nearly ideal and so inherently fixed 
in his life and practice that he very naturally looks for 
these same commendable qualities in others. Some- 
time the unscrupulous, aware of this confiding trust 
in his fellowman, have taken advantage of him in 
business, deals ; and though such evidence of a lower 
moral standard in others may cause regret, he still 
possesses, far above the average man, an abiding faith 
in his fellowman. 

At the close of the Civil War, Mr. Poole was a 
youth about fourteen years of age living in the home 
of his father on the farm, and attending such schools 
as there were in the neighborhood, for two or three 
months in the year. But in spite of the meager edu- 
cational advantages afforded by this period of his 
school age, he acquired a splendid practical education 
and spent a number of years in the school room as an 
efficient teacher. 

During these early years and, in fact for some years 
after his marriage, Mr. Poole, like the average young 
man, was somewhat at sea as to his permanent life 
work. Not that he did not have serious impressions 
at this time as to where his duty lay; for as he will 
tell you, no doubt, he was strongly under the impres- 
sion that he ought to enter the ministry. But as is so 
often true in such cases, he sought to resist the im- 

130 The School Of The Prophets 

pression by trying to adjust himself to some other 
line of work in which he hoped to be equally useful. 
So he turned to the study of law in which pursuit he 
made satisfactory progress so long as his conscience 
and convictions could be reconciled to such a course. 

Mr. Poole, as I have indicated, abandoned the stu- 
dy of law, not at all, I think, because he found any- 
thing in the course that led to this step or because 
he had any misgivings as to his success in the legal 
profession; for it is quite reasonable to assume that 
with his logical mind and with a forceful and easy 
delivery he would have rated high at the bar. But 
the change in his plans and purposes concerning his 
life work was the outgrowth of a conviction and the 
decision to yield to what he now recognized as a defi- 
nite call to the ministry. 

He was now thirty years of age, what we might 
term almost middle life, but this portion of his life 
had not been wasted by any means. Quite to the con- 
trary, his struggle for an education, his experience in 
the school room as well as some knowledge of the 
fundamental principles of American jurisprudence 
were, in a very real sense, preparatory steps for his 
real life work. And whether Mr. Poole was conscious 
of the fact or not, he was undoubtedly following the 
divine plan outlined and emphasized by abundant 
Scriptural authority; for I think there can be no 
question as to this fact, that a call to the ministry im- 
plies a preparation for the work to which one is called. 

A college training and a course in the seminary 
were out of the question in his case, and while these 
adjuncts are regarded as most desirable, and there is 

Daniel Wilson Poole 131 

no intention here to discount in the least these ad- 
vantages, yet the very conditions which preclude these 
so-called finishing touches, may work out, in a mea- 
sure, compensating advantages. The struggle for an 
education under adverse conditions supplies the sinew 
and strength of character so essential in every worthy 
endeavor, and especially in the ministry. Nothing 
operates so successfully in rounding out the practical 
side of an education as time spent in the school room 
imparting instruction to others. And if I have any 
conception as to what real preaching should be, there 
is as much teaching as preaching in a real sermon. If 
we take Christ's ministry as an example we find this 
to be true, I am sure. 

Although Mr. Poole never completed his law course, 
and of course never engaged in its practice; and 
though he may at the time have regarded the study 
as barren of practical results, yet I feel sure such was 
not the case. Of course my opinion in this matter 
might not be worth much, but I quote from Rev. L. P. 
Gwaltney, who as a preacher himself had no superior 
and, therefore, was eminently qualified to pass on the 
essentials of good preaching. He said of Mr. Poole 
that he was one of the most logical preachers he knew 
and that in his opinion this was due, in part at least, 
to his study of law. At any rate Mr. Poole was follow- 
ing a well established precedent in his apparent delay 
in entering the ministry. Christ was thirty years old 
when he entered upon his ministry and for some wise 
purpose, no doubt, these thirty years of his life are 
almost completely veiled in obscurity; his experience, 
whatever it may have been, was most likely prepara- 
tory for the few years of his ministry. 

132 The School Of The Prophets 

Moses, whose life was in a very remarkable way 
divinely ordered, spent two-thirds, or eighty years, of 
his eventful life of one hundred and twenty years, in 
preparation for his last forty years of strenuous lead- 

Mr. Poole made a profession of religion and joined 
the church when about thirteen years, of age; so that 
some seventeen years elapsed between that time and 
his entry into the ministry. This experience is com- 
mon in the lives of a great many ministers. But the 
reasons for this interval in Mr. Poole's career are not 
available on my part and really not essential. A defi- 
nite call to the ministry, inspired by the Holy Spirit 
and divinely sanctioned, is one of the tenets of the Bap- 
tist faith and practice. Whether this call is coinci- 
dent with conversion or whether it sometimes comes 
later is a question which I shall not attempt to ans- 
wer. A mere personal opinion may be ventured and 
pass for what it is worth. It is quite possible, and 
true in a great many cases, I think, that a more or less 
definite call is recognized at the time of conversion. 
Again, those who can speak from experience will tell 
you that a somewhat vague and uncertain impression 
at first may, in time, become an irresistible urge that 
cannot be doubted or ignored. 

It is possible, I think, that the act of conversion and 
the specific call to the ministry may come at differ- 
ent times, sometimes more or less widely separated. In 
such cases environment, or more specifically, the spir- 
itual atmosphere in which one lives plays an impor- 
tant role. In Mr. Poole's case I do not know his expe- 
rience — when the call came, just how he recognized it 
or any of the other phases that accompanied what was 

Daniel Wilson Poole 133 

evidently a conviction to which he finally yielded. In 
this connection it is interesting at least to make a brief 
survey of his early surroundings. If a Christian envi- 
ronment, a positive religious atmosphere in the home, 
supplemented by precept and example are, in any way, 
factors in the problem, these were all very positively 
a part of his early life. 

His was a godly home in the truest sense — not a 
place where religion is a theory, but where it was lived 
and practiced. His father, William Poole, was a min- 
ister and three older brothers were ministers, also. 
The older brother, Nathan, was not a preacher but a 
most godly man and his influence on the early life of 
his younger brother was very marked. His mother 
was a saintly woman who prayed for and with her 
children. His sisters, all older than he, were examples 
to him of upright, Christian living. 

The Lord in his selection of representatives and 
leaders in the divine plan for evangelizing the world, 
sees in the individual essential traits for such lead- 
ership which might be entirely overlooked by man if 
he were making the selection. But I think that we 
shall find more often than not that he goes to some 
godly home presided over by pious and godly parents 
for such selection. 

The home of John the Baptist was such a home, 
for Luke tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth were 
both righteous before God. Jesus spent most of his 
earthly life in the home of Joseph and Mary, pre-emi- 
nently righteous and godly people. We might mention 
other homes from which great leaders were taken as 
in the case of Moses, David and Samuel whose parents 
and home-life were distinctly religious. 

134 The School Of The Prophets 

The fact that the father and four sons of this fam- 
ily were divinely called into the ministry, the most 
useful and exalted of all the vocations, is a most worthy 
tribute to the reverence and godly living of those who 
presided over the home. Just what influence this 
home-life had in leading Mr. Poole into the ministry, 
or whether it was in any way a deciding factor at all, 
I am wholly unprepared to say. I doubt whether Mr. 
Poole himself could say just how much, if anything, 
environment had to do with his call. But of one thing 
I am sure, he neither doubts nor fails to appreciate 
the helpful influence of such a home. Another fact of 
which there can be no doubt is, that God could have 
used all these assets as a means to this end, to enlist 
his energies, his efforts, his life in His cause. 

For the past ten years Mr. Poole has not been ac- 
tively engaged in the work of the ministry, but he and 
Mrs. Poole are living a quiet life in their attractive 
little home at Hiddenite, N. C. Although not engaged 
in active ministerial work, he and Mrs. Poole are vi- 
tally interested in the church and the Sunday School, 
as well as in every other movement that helps to make 
an ideal community in which to live. But for forty- 
five years Mr. Poole was actively and continuously en- 
gaged in pastoral work, serving churches located in a 
group of piedmont counties including Alexander, Ire- 
dell, Wilkes, Catawba and probably others. In addi- 
tion to his regular pastoral duties he spent much time 
during revival seasons in evangelistic services aiding 
other ministers in revival meetings. 

Those old enough to recall conditions forty years 
ago, and more, and for many years later, are well 
aware of the condition of our roads generally at that 

Daniel Wilson Poole 135 

time and as a result of these conditions, the difficulty 
of travel, especially during the winter months. In this 
day of quick and easy travel we can hardly appreciate 
the hardships endured by preachers of those days in 
going to and from their appointments. In many cases 
a round trip of forty or fifty miles was made monthly 
either on horseback or by horse and buggy over the 
most wretched roads and in all kinds of weather for 
years at a time. Nothing in fiction could be more in- 
teresting or fascinating, perhaps, than a record of the 
personal experiences of the Rev. D. W. Poole, L. P. 
and J. P. Gwaltney and others during these strenuous 
years of their ministry — a period of several decades 
marked by men, thrilling experiences and results, the 
like of which we may never see again. Unfortunately 
no such record has been left by these sturdy, self-sacri- 
ficing, faithful evangels. 

Among the assets of any community in our apprai- 
sal of the moral and spiritual values of the community, 
is the minister. This is in a peculiar sense true of the 
resident minister whether actively employed or in re- 
tirement. The people may not always appreciate the 
moral worth to a community of the preacher, but in 
most cases there is evident appreciation of this ar- 

Some time ago a delegation of members from one 
of the churches which Mr. Poole had served as pastor 
came to visit Mr. and Mrs. Poole. They realized that 
he was no longer able to serve as pastor of their church, 
but to show their appreciation of former service as 
well as their interest in Mr. and Mrs. Poole personally, 
they proposed very generously to provide living quar- 

136 The School Of The Prophets 

ters and to provide for their material needs for the re- 
maining years of their lives if they would only agree 
to live in their community, 

The preachers of a generation ago encountered dif- 
ficulties of which the modern preacher knows very lit- 
tle. Yet while his. labors were beset with exposures 
and hardships, and with small material remuneration, 
there was abundant compensation in the fact that the 
people whom they served so faithfully and under such 
handicaps hold them in tender and loving memory — 
a reward worth, no doubt, all the hardships of such a 

Another incident that should be mentioned, per- 
haps, in closing, is the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Poole 
celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage 
on the first day of March, 1936. They have reared 
and educated a family of nine children, all living, all 
married and maintaining homes of their own, another 
proof, among many others, that marriage is not always 
a failure. 

— J. W. Hendren. 



Editor Archibald Johnson writing in Charity and 
Children many years ago about the school which 
is the subject of this chapter highly commended the 
preachers for the work they were doing and suggested 
that other groups in different given circles organize 
such a study course. He wrote under the caption, 
"The School of the Prophets", and I have borrowed 
the appelation as the heading of this chapter. 

Not many years after the war between the states 
three young preachers L. P. Gwaltney, J. P. Gwaltney 
and D. W. Poole, all living in the same neighborhood, 
fell upon the idea of meeting together one day in each 
week for the purpose of studying the Bible. These 
young men were strong and vigorous, full of energy 
and intensely anxious to forge ahead in the work of 
the ministry and to gain all possible mutual value from 
the weekly study and association. 

They secured such helps as they could, including 
Barnes, Clark, Fuller, Henry and other expositions of 
the Scriptures and with the aid of these they began 
a systematic study. They would select a certain book 
or a group of books in the Bible, sometimes reading 
one book in the Old Testament and one in the New as, 
for instance, Matthew and Isaiah, Genesis and Romans, 
Daniel and Revelation, Malachi and Jude. These selec- 
tions were completed before another selection was 


140 The School Of The Prophets 

Not the least remarkable thing about this "Read- 
ing" is the fact that it continued without an interrup- 
tion through each year, with the exception of a short 
period during the revival season, for a half century 
and, instead of growing less interesting or of less va- 
lue, it gathered momentum and increased in interest 
and value with each successive year. The school was a 
source of great inspiration to these brethren; for not 
only were they able to gather new thoughts from each 
other but as "iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpen- 
eth the countenance of his friend" and by the same 
token these brethren were encouraged by each other's 
presence and interest. In this school these men laid 
a foundation deep and broad and built upon it such a 
knowledge of the Book of God as few men in this 
country possess. 

According to a diary which I have kept since 1906 
I began meeting with these brethren in that year and 
continued without a break except for eight months at 
Wake Forest and three or four months at Concord 
until the spring of 1915. We were meeting first at 
Linney's Grove church and later, in order to accommo- 
date Rev. T. E. Redmon, we moved the meeting place 
to Pilgrim church. My only reason for this personal 
reference is that I wish to relate some things in this 
connection which are first hand and which I never could 
have known, in the sense that I do know them, by 
merely having heard of them. 

Please pardon me for a small digression here. I 
have mentioned the name of T. E. Redmon in connec- 
tion with the school and I am impressed to pay a tri- 
bute to this man. I feel that I speak the truth when 

The School Of The Prophets 141 

I say that, in many respects, he was the most remark- 
able man I have known. For one thing he was un- 
learned, in the academic sense of the word. He could 
scarcely read a sentence clearly without help. I say 
this, not to do him an injustice, but rather, it is said 
in justice to him: for before the end of the first year 
he could read well and before he ceased to meet with 
us he had gathered such a vocabulary and could use 
it with so much fluency that the brethren marveled at 
his aptitude. 

He was so anxious to learn and so respectful in his 
attitude toward the brethren that they had great res- 
pect and admiration for him and took the deepest in- 
terest in helping him. He requested them to correct 
him in the use of his English at any time they saw 
reason to do so and assured them that he would not 
only not take offence but that he would be profoundly 
grateful to them. He rarely ever made a note, as the 
other brethren did, but trusted to his memory and 
never seemed to forget anything. He was always 
springing some new thought, original with himself, 
which was evidence of the fact that he was thinking 
ahead. It seems to us poor mortals a tragedy, that he 
was cut down in the prime of life. It would have been 
interesting to observe what development of mind and 
heart a ripe old age would have revealed in such a 

There were other preachers in Alexander County 
just as loyal to the truth and just as zealous in the pur- 
suit of knowledge as were the founders of the School 
of The Prophets. When I think of Rev. W. J. Bum- 
garner, for one, and begin to estimate some of the ac- 

142 The School Of The Prophets 

tivities of his overflowing career I am simply amazed 
beyond measure at the enormous amount of work he 
has done, and how far reaching was his influence in 
that section of the country where he lived and labored. 
One can hardly find a church or an individual Chris- 
tian in all that wide territory without observing in 
some way or in some degree, the shaping hand of "Un- 
cle Jeff" Bumgarner. 

But J. P. and L. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole 
lived together in the eastern half of Alexander County 
and for many years were almost the only Baptist 
preachers living in that section. They grew up to- 
gether, they labored together and neighbored together. 
They studied together and worked together for many 
years. They told each other of their hopes and aims, 
their joys and sorrows ; they prayed for each other's 
interests and were as loyal and true to each other as 
brothers in the flesh could be. Their names became as 
household words : "Jay, Parks and Daniel" were names 
as inseparable as "Peter, James and John". I doubt 
if three preachers could be found anywhere in the 
world so bound together by the ties of friendship and 
brotherly affection and whose interests are so entire- 
ly divorced from selfish motives. 

These men lived "above the clouds" where eternal 
sunshine illumines the vision of those who walk on 
the King's Highway. The evil birds of passion may 
have flitted above their heads but they could not build 
a nest in their hair. If hatred and malice ever sought 
to poison the streams of usefulness in their lives the 
sparkling fountains of fealty and benevolence abounded 
to cleanse and purify. If avarice ever approached them 
to sully the conscience and steal away the peace and 

The School Of The Prophets 143 

joy of their lives he must have looked into the humble, 
philanthropic depths of their souls and gone away, 
ashamed. There never was a spot or wrinkle or any 
such thing upon the good name of either of these men ; 
not even in whispered intimations among the vulgar 
who seek out the sordid suspicions of their kind to 
feed their vile craving for slander. They stood four 
square to the world and their lives were open books. 

As to the actual value of the school, that can never 
be estimated, at least not to our poor understanding. 
The development of mind and soul are not to be reck- 
oned in terms, of material value, nor yet can they be 
calculated in time ; for the values gained by these bre- 
thren were passed on to those whose lives they touched, 
so that, after all, vast eternity alone can reveal the 
fruits of their labors in the lives of others. In a cer- 
tain sense the school was a sort of a power-house where 
the current of influence was generated and from which 
these brethren went, each to his field of service with 
fresh inspiration to spread the light of the gospel to 
the thousands who heard them. 

Not many years after these brethren began the 
school they decided to devote certain hours each day 
to the preparation of sermons. If in the course of the 
reading they found a text that impressed them as being 
suitable as the basis for a sermon they would arrange 
an outline and then build the sermon by mutual sug- 
gestion. The style, the diction, the phraseology and 
even the application of the climax were left to the in- 
dividual inclination. 

L. P. Gwaltney was the recognized leader in this 
school. He never assumed the role of a teacher. In 

144 The School Of The Prophets 

the ten years of my association with the school I never 
once heard him speak of the fact, and in his attitude 
toward the other brethren one would suppose that he 
was there only to learn from them. Not many teachers 
are that wise. Most eminently fitted was he to take 
the lead ; for he had a wonderful knack at retaining de- 
tails; he had read widely and carefully and his mind 
could grasp, with almost lightning swiftness, the great 
doctrines of the Bible. 

Once in a while these brethren failed to interpret 
things alike. There was always a lively debate when 
these questions arose upon which they held different 
views. Sometimes they would become aroused and for 
a time the sparks would fly, but always in the finest 
brotherly, Christian spirit. There were a few points of 
theology upon which there never was a full agreement 
and when these points were touched they always pro- 
duced a little spontaneous smile among the brethren. 

Another interesting and very helpful feature of 
the school was added in later years. A subject for dis- 
cussion was selected for the week following and a lead- 
er assigned. I find in looking over my diary such sub- 
jects as these were discussed : "The Five Cardinal 
Points in the Calvinistic Doctrines". The Pre- and 
Post-Millennial Views". "The Relation of God's Sov- 
ereignty to Human Responsibility". "The Meaning of 
Baptism", and so on. An hour in the afternoon was 
set apart for these discussions, each one present tak- 
ing a lively part in it. 

It is usually a difficult thing for a speaker to work 
himself up to anything like enthusiasm before a small 
audience, as every public speaker well knows, but one 

The School Of The Prophets 145 

of the unaccountable things, about these discussions 
was quite often these brethren manifested as much 
fire and "vim" as if there had been a thousand people 
hearing them. 

Beside the benefits derived from the study of the 
Scripture and the discussion of the topics outlined there 
were other phases of value, not the least of which was 
the sweet fellowship of these saintly brethren, one with 
another. In this group there was no more need for a 
strained or affected effort to appear courteous than 
there is in the family circle; and there was no more 
reason for any of that circle of brethren to suspect that 
the friendship and brotherly feeling was feigned than 
there should be among brothers in the flesh. There 
was a spirit of perfect and wonderful confidence and 
simple trust among them which resulted in a sense of 
the sweetest security and ease. There was a refreshing 
and soothing absence of envy and jealousy, the lack of 
which I have never felt elsewhere and possibly never 
shall again in this, world. 

Their greetings were as warm and sincere as their 
partings were affectionate and reluctant. They related 
to each other their experiences of the previous week 
and told of their plans for the coming Sunday and each 
one seemed to enter as sympathetically into the con- 
cerns of the other as if their problems had been their 
own. They unreservedly and unhesitatingly sought 
counsel of each other in matters pertaining to their 
work and gave mutual suggestions with the same sin- 
cerity and brotherly trust with which they were sought. 

Not infrequently, when tired and weary, their 
voices were blended in harmonies of the long ago to 

146 The School Of The Prophets 

refresh their spirits. A little of the spirit of levity 
would invade the circle and manifest itself in the re- 
cital of some amusing- incident coming under their ob- 
servation. But immediately they would return to work 
with renewed energy and in as solemn a mood as if 
nothing had taken place. Many are the happy experi- 
ences of those days. They make up a cool, shady oasis 
in the desert of life and shall never be forgotten while 
life endures. 

I should probably omit the richest and sweetest 
part of those years of arduous toil, of fellowship di- 
vine, of mutual help and of far reaching influence, 
if I failed to tell of the season of devotion at the begin- 
ning and at the end of each day. Let me say first, and 
I wish I could write it in letters of fire, that through 
all those years no day was ever begun without first a 
season of prayer. Usually they would sing a hymn, 
almost always some old soul refreshing song, before 
the prayer. 

I have heard it said by men who would seem to be 
competent judges that L. P. Gwaltney had a tenor 
voice that would have made him world famous if he 
had chosen to enter the field of music. Jay Gwaltney 
was a bass singer of no mean accomplishment and Dan- 
iel Poole had been a leader of song since boyhood. 
When these three men struck up the melodies of "The 
Indian's Farewell" or "Mattie" or "Holy Manna" or 
some other kindred song it was almost like placing the 
ear to the gate of heaven and hearing the angels sing. 

Then came the prayer, and with what fervor, what 
vehemence, what importunity they besieged the Throne 
of Grace ! I shall never forget while memory lingers 

The School Of The Prophets 147 

how our hearts thrilled when L. P. Gwaltney said to 
us one day when we were about to part, "Brethren, I 
am going to remember each one of you by name at a 
throne of grace next Sunday at ten minutes before 
eleven o'clock. I wish that each of you would remember 
me". The brethren heartily acquiesced in the sugges- 
tion and we all went away with a new and happy an- 
ticipation of strength in our labors that this world can 
never bestow upon a preacher. 

Let me add that this mutual agreement was not for- 
gotten and for many years, indeed, as long as these 
brethren continued to preach, this promise was faith- 
fully carried out and, as long as I live, I shall believe 
that one of the most highly valuable blessings received 
by these brethren was the result of that mutual re- 
membrance coming in the form of inspiration and 
strength as a direct answer to prayer. 

Later, after L. P. Gwaltney had moved to Taylors- 
ville and D. W. Poole had gone to Stony Point to live, 
the school was discontinued for awhile, and insofar 
as old surroundings were concerned it was discontinued 
forever. But with the addition to the circle of Rev. 
E. V. Bumgarner, Rev. J. W. Watts and Rev. Atwell 
Watts and perhaps others, the school was carried on 
at Taylorsville for a number of years where a lively 
interest was taken and great good accomplished. 

The leadership of Rev. L. P. Gwaltney with the 
hearty cooperation of the brethren in carrying out this 
plan of study most certainly deserves the commenda- 
tion of the people of all this mountain country. The 
work they did was so thorough, so constructive and 
so inspirational in its nature, and the influence emana- 

148 The School Of The Prophets 

ting therefrom so far-reaching and the results so valu- 
able and important that I may truly say eternity alone 
will reveal what it actually meant to those who spon- 
sored it and to those who, in the last analysis, received 
the fruits of it — the multitude to whom these brethren 
preached for a half century. 

Of the old school at Linney's Grove and later at 
Pilgrim there were seven who attended regularly, five 
preachers and two laymen. As I write these lines one 
only of these seven, beside myself, is alive. 

The School Of The Prophets 149 


Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they 
are spirit and they are life". These words were spo- 
ken two thousand years ago, yet there are among us 
those who turn back again to the weak (powerless) 
and beggarly (worthless) elements, desiring to re- 
main in bondage to forms and ceremonies, trying to 
profit by the "flesh" by observing days and months and 
times and years. It is the only avenue open for those 
who desire to be Christians outwardly and yet avoid 
the personal contact with the God who made them. 

There is a decided tendency among all religious 
people toward the ceremonial side of religion. The 
first division in the apostolic church arose over circum- 
cision. There were those who said, "Unless they be 
circumcised and obey the law of Moses they cannot be 
saved". This, of course, had reference to the Gentile 
converts. Paul championed the cause of spiritual, 
personal religion against the formal religion of the Ju- 
daizers and in all his writings he trained his most 
powerful artillery against those who would incorpor- 
ate the Mosaic ceremonies into the worship of the 
Christian church. It was a battle to the death between 
the gospel of ceremonies, and the gospel of faith. 

The battle is still being waged with the apostles 
of "Salvation by Grace" slowly but steadily retreating 
before the legions of the advocates of "Salvation by 
Works". Why should a man repent of sin and re- 
form his life when he can much more easily repeat 
some words or perform some rite ? Is it not much more 

150 The School Of The Prophets 

agreeable to human nature and far less humbling 
than to stand before God with a naked soul? 

He has read history to very little purpose who 
thinks that Luther and Browne and Whitefield and 
Wesley and Knox were missionaries. It was not to 
establish the Christian religion that these men 
wrought, but to inject spiritual life into the old dry 
hull of a dead church in Europe. Or perhaps it would 
be more nearly correct to say that they were trying to 
save lost men and women from the lifeless religion of 
the age as well as from eternal ruin at last. A horse- 
racing, liquor-drinking clergy entirely surrounded, like 
an island, with forms, was not calculated to lead men 
to a higher life. 

The less men know about experimental religion the 
more zealously they cling to their forms. It is far 
more difficult to get a legalist to break away from his 
forms than to get a drunkard to leave off his drink 
and reform his life. Ishmael will always be the son of 
the bond woman no matter where he takes up land. 
The legalist will fight rather than give up his legalism. 
Persecution has always arisen and will always have 
its source among legalists. If the blind lead the blind 
there is nothing to be done, in respect to formalist re- 
ligion, but to let both fall into the ditch. Old bottles 
will burst if new wine is put into them and so the on- 
ly hope is to secure new bottles and they must be found 
outside of a lifeless formal church. 

There are certain words running all the way 
through the New Testament Scriptures, found in pairs 
by way of contrast, and by way of contrast set forth 
the difference between ceremonial, formal, ritualistic 

The School Of The Prophets 151 

or legal religion and spiritual, experimental, regene- 
rating, heart religion: "faith and works", "faith and 
law", "Spirit and flesh", "grace and faith", "grace 
and law". For instance, Paul writing to the Galatians 
who had been listening to the Judaizing teachers, said, 
"Are ye so foolish ? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye 
made perfect by the flesh?" Thousands of professed 
Christians are today, after two thousand years of ad- 
monition, still trusting in the "flesh" for salvation. 
They believe if they perform certain rites and cere- 
monies all will be well, and they strive zealously to 
perform them in the prescribed manner and at the 
right time of the moon and in the proper season of 
the year. 

Spirituality to the legalist is foolishness. "The 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for 
they are foolishness unto him". The legalist knows 
a great many things about Christ: the spiritual man 
has. the living Christ in his heart. The legalist under- 
takes to climb to heaven on a ladder of good deeds; 
the spiritual man sees heaven opened and ascends by 
faith on the merits of the Son of Man. 

The legalist ascribes saving power to material sub- 
stance, such as water, wine, new moons, catechisms ; 
and to fleshly performances such as fasting, crossing 
the heart, paying the tithe ; the spiritual man ascribes 
saving power to God alone through the sacrifice of 
Jesus on the Cross. The legalist's religion is of the 
head ; the spiritual man's religion is of the heart. The 
legalist works from the outside; the spiritual man 
from the inside. 

I have heard of a Japanese custom which required 
the worshiper to run one hundred times around a 

152 The School Of The Prophets 

temple, dropping a block of wood at a certain point at 
each round. When the task was finished the poor 
worshiper would go home tired, and happy that he 
had appeased the wrath of his god and secured his 
favor. How inexpressibly foolish! and how pitiable 
the poor deluded man ! But is there not just as much 
merit and just as much sense in the acts of the poor 
heathen as there is in a hundred and one fleshly per- 
formances of thousands of professing Christians who 
reverently go through with them in the belief that 
God's blessing will thereby be secured? 

Man by nature is an idolator. He must approach 
God through some tangible medium, something he can 
see with natural eyes and touch with his hands or he 
will not believe it possible to commune with God. In 
this he rejects Christ altogether, for "there is one 
God and one mediator between God and men, the man 
Christ Jesus". As soon as Moses is out of sight he 
makes a golden calf and bows down before it saying, 
"These be the gods that brought us out of Egypt". 
He cannot wors.hip at all unless the surroundings are 
of a solemn sort. The lights must be of a certain shade 
and the wooden cross must be in view. He would not 
think of kneeling unless he were in precisely the right 
angle with his architectural surroundings, and on the 
very altar prescribed for the purpose. They walk by 
sight and not by faith. They are saying, "Let us bring 
the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto 
us that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out 
of the hand of our enemies". 

The Bible requirement is "Believe!" "Believe on 
the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." "Veri- 
ly, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my words 

The School Of The Prophets 153 

and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting 
life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed 
from death unto life." The legalist says, "Do enough 
good works and perform enough rites and ceremonies 
and thou shalt be saved". Jesus said, "There is noth- 
ing from without a man that entereth into him can de- 
file him, but the things which come out of him, these 
are they that defile him". The legalist says "Be exceed- 
ingly diligent to refrain from eating certain foods on 
Friday". Paul says, "But meats commendeth us not 
to God ; for neither if we eat are we better, neither if 
we eat not are we worse". It will be recalled that 
Paul wrote to Christians of this class : "Ye observe 
days and months and times and years ; I am afraid of 

The legalist believes that because he has faithful- 
ly kept certain feasts and performed certain rites God 
will be well pleased with him and he derives a certain 
sort of comfort from his acts. The spiritual man, 
because he has "believed" has the "witness within him- 
self", because "The Spirit beareth witness with his 
spirit that he is the child of God". And that "witness" 
is his, not because he did certain acts, but because he 
believed and by faith is trusting in the blood that 
"cleanseths from all sin". 

The legalist says, "I am working my way to hea- 
ven". The spiritual man says, "Christ in me, the hope 
of Glory". The legalist says, "I am superior in morals 
to you because all these things have I kept from my 
youth." The spiritual man says, "God forbid that I 
should glory save in the cross of Our Lord Jesus 

154 The School Of The Prophets 

In what way, then, is the spiritual union with 
Christ related to good works? In the same way that 
the vine is related to the branches or the tree to its 
fruit. 'A good tree bringeth forth good fruit", but in 
no sense does the fruit produce the tree. The spirit- 
ual union with Christ is the impelling and compelling 
power and motive behind the good deeds of a Christ- 
ian, but the good deeds do not produce a spiritual 
union with Christ. Acts of virtue flow from a spirit- 
ual union with Christ, but a spiritual union with 
Christ does not flow from acts of virtue. Salvation 
is no more the product of good deeds than a tree is the 
product of its fruit. And here is where the roads di- 
verged over which the respective groups of professed 
Christians have traveled for almost two thousand 
years and will travel down to the end of the age. 

Because of a spiritual union with Christ, Paul 
said, "I keep my body under, and bring it into sub- 
jection, (make it my slave) — beat it black and blue — 
lest by any means after I have preached to others, I 
myself should be rejected". "I beseech you, brethren, 
by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a 
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is 
your reasonable service". Did the apostle mean that 
this is the way to secure salvation? Certainly not! 
for "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified 
in his sight". And "by him all that BELIEVE are 
justified from all things from which ye could not be 
justified by the law of Moses". 

The regenerated man does good deeds, leads a vir- 
tuous life, honors God in his conduct and strives might- 
ily to acquaint others with "the power of an endless 
life" because he is impelled to do so by the "Spirit that 

The School Of The Prophets 155 

dwelleth in him." He does these things, not to procure 
salvation, but because he is saved. 

For the most part Baptists and Methodists, of the 
South have, in the past century and more, stood solid- 
ly for a regenerated church membership. That de- 
mand has lost force in the last few years. It is not 
nearly so far from the cradle roll to the church roll as 
it once was. We have advanced along intellectual 
lines and who would dare to contend that an educated 
person is as sinful by nature or as responsible to God 
for his sinful acts as an ignorant man? We have 
largely substituted a head religion in place of the 
heart religion of our fathers. Who knows but that 
Baptists will soon be wise enough to incorporate the 
use of holy water and the bones of saints? 

But the trend of the times does not indicate the 
correctness of the tendency. The burden of the min- 
istry of Jesus and his apostles was an effort to drive 
a wedge of cleavage, in an understandable way, be- 
tween spiritual and ceremonial worship. Probably 
no group of preachers could be found anywhere who 
have maintained the original concept of the nature of 
religion more clearly than L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney 
and D. W. Poole. There were others equally firm in 
their convictions and as zealous in their efforts, but few 
men in this part of the country have wielded such a 
powerful influence in moulding the public mind about 
things religious as they. 

These men stood unmoved and unshaken in their 
convictions that religion is an experience. They did 
not believe that any external influence or condition 
could effect a change of heart. They did not believe 

156 The School Of The Prophets 

that any ceremony or any sacrament or any priestly 
intercession or any standard of proficiency or any oth- 
er earthly thing or all earthly things combined would 
affect the relation between a sinner and his Maker. 
They believed that every man in this world is personal- 
ly responsible to God for himself and that he stands 
alone before God with no plea to make and no price 
to bring except alone the finished work of Jesus Christ. 

Actuated by these deep and burning convictions 
these men literally threw themselves, into the conflict 
between lifeless, soulless ceremonialism and Christ the 
power of God unto salvation to every one that believ- 
eth. They insisted upon the necessity of repentance 
for sin. Repentance involved a godly sorrow for sin 
and a mighty turning away from sin. And let it not 
be forgotten that even this could not be accomplished 
apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

About twenty-five or thirty years ago there was in- 
troduced into this country, I mean the Southland, a 
form of evangelism which, while it professed to be 
genuine, nevertheless worked such an amount of evil 
that nothing this side the Judgment Bar will ever 
determine just how far reaching it was, and still is, 
in its effect upon spiritual Christianity. 

The evangelist thus introducing the new method 
of procedure usually came well advertised as well as 
well recommended. He had been the instrument of 
great revival awakening in OTHER sections and this 
was written in large letters. His photograph was 
placed in conspicuous places and circulars were scat- 
tered everywhere, praising the man and his work. He 
immediately, upon his arrival, assumed full control, 

The School Of The Prophets 157 

assumed that the pastors of the churches were brain- 
less specimens of bacteria who must either confine 
their activities to an effort to exalt and glorify the 
evangelist or shut up and get out. 

He first formed an organization of workers before 
the real "campaign" began. The members, of this or- 
ganization were selected with reference to their "effi- 
ciency" and business ability, more particularly their 
ability as money gatherers. 

Now all this may have been good and proper, but 
when the "campaign" had lasted for a week and the 
sleeping sinners had failed to respond, things began to 
look serious for the evangelist. He must also go from 
this place to new fields and must have something to 
place on his placards in the next town. He must do 
something to secure converts. There was something 
done! The evangelist resorted to all sorts of cheap 
tricks and maneuvers. It has been said that some of 
these "efficiency experts" needed only to know a sin- 
ner's address to add him to his list of converts. 

All serious minded Christians mourn today because 
this method of evangelism resulted in filling many 
churches with unconverted members. This method is 
still in operation in a number of places, but it is losing 

There may be a question as to whether a super- 
ficial profession of religion extorted by shrewd mani- 
pulation, is less or more detrimental to spiritual Chris- 
tianity than a purely ceremonial induction into the 
church where no pretense of a change of heart is 
made. The fact is that, in so far as the final results 
are concerned, they are of the same value. 

158 The School Of The Prophets 

While L. P. and J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Poole 
were too courteous and too wise to wage open war on 
either method by an open attack upon their proponents, 
they did that which was far better. They laid a double 
emphasis upon the necessity of repentance and the 
doctrine of regeneration and with all the zeal of the 
true prophet and with all the power they could com- 
mand, they exalted the crucified Christ as the sinner's 
Savior. And while they thundered warnings against 
the emptiness, of catechismal induction into the church 
and cried aloud against the dread delusion of make- 
believe conversion, they consistently refrained from 
practicing the one or encouraging the other. 

We shall never know in this world what the preach- 
ing of these men has meant in maintaining spiritual 
Christianity as opposed to catechumenical religion in 
the large rural sections covered by their ministry. 
But I am pursuaded that, to them and a few others like 
them, more than to any other human agency, is due 
the fact that, for many years, that territory was 
known far and wide as the most thoroughly evange- 
lized and the most intensely spiritual portion of the 

This is true, not only because of the large part 
these men had in shaping religious thought and prac- 
tice among the masses who always, heard them gladly, 
but because scores of young preachers, many of them 
converted under their ministry, were trained by them 
in the doctrines of the Bible and were inspired by 
their example to cast their lot on the side of spiritual 
Christianity. And these went into widely scattered 
fields, to preach in the spirit and power of their spiri- 

The School Of The Prophets 159 

tual fathers, the glad tidings of salvation through 

Many evils which effect peoples and nations could 
be avoided or defeated were it not for the "enemy 
within our gates". If there is a real danger that world- 
liness within the church may destroy the spiritual life 
entirely from the religion of our day, that danger is 
increased in proportion to the waning of "old time 
religion" — spiritual Christianity, and the giving way 
to forms and ceremonialism. A regenerated church 
membership is the surest guarantee against the growth 
of worldliness. If preachers are uneasy about the fu- 
ture of the church and about the lowering of moral 
standards, among professing Christians let them go 
back to the New Testament method of evangelism. 

/ must needs go home by the way of the cross 
There's no other way but this; 
I shall ne'er get sight of the gates of light 
If the way of the cross I miss. 

I must needs go on in the blood-sprinkled ivay, 
The path that the Savior trod; 
If I ever climb to the heights sublime 
Where the soul is at home with God. 

Then I bid farewell to the way of the world, 
To walk in it never more; 
For my Lord says "Come" and I seek my home 
Where he waits at the open door. 

160 The School Of The Prophets 



The words above are quoted from a letter writ- 
ten by Uncle Jay Gwaltney and published in a local 
paper seven years before his death. It was addressed 
to his brethren and is given in full in another chapter 
of this book. Since then many of those whom he ad- 
dressed in the letter have gone on to the great celestial 
assembly grounds. I was greatly surprised when, not 
long ago, I counted the names of the Baptist preachers 
with whom I had labored since entering the ministry 
to find that no less than twenty-two of them have 
"folded their tents like the Arab" and stolen silently 
out through the night. 

As I turn back the shadow on the dial of Ahaz 
for a period of thirty years I look in on the old Briar 
Creek Association in its assembly. I see down around 
the front of the church some familiar faces: Smith 
Goforth, W. A. Myers, Newt Gwyn, Thomas Jennings, 
Israel Hollow, Robert Garner, T. E. Redmon, John 
Weatherman and others. I visit the Alexander As- 
sociation and see more familiar figures, L. P. Gwalt- 
ney, J. P. Gwaltney, D. W. Poole, J. W. Watts, W. 
J. Bumgarner, Hix Hendren, George Bumgarner and 
a few others. 

The shadow on the dial moves, forward again to 
1936. Not one of those attending the Briar Creek is 
alive today and not one attending the Alexander As- 
sociation is preaching the gospel now and only one 
of them is alive. The remnant of the Old Guard will 
follow on. The world about us is too busy to remem- 

The School Of The Prophets 161 

ber — or care. Another generation or two and it will 
hardly be remembered that they ever lived. 

But there is a great meeting just ahead. For the 
"ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion 
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads ; they 
shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing 
shall flee away". 

Heaven is a place, "I go to prepare a place for 
you". It is a prepared place for a prepared people. 

Heaven is a place where all the inhabitants will 
ascribe saving power to God alone. There will be no 
boasting of good works in heaven. 

There will be no class distinction in heaven. 

Money will not procure a place in the society of 
heaven for a libertine. Politics will not set aside the 
verdict of the Judge who presides in its courts. 

Arbitrary assumption of ecclesiastic authority, 
along with degrees attached thereto, will be laid out on 
the trash pile outside the gate of heaven. 

There will be no hypocrisy in heaven — nor hypo- 

There will be no sickness, sorrow or death in hea- 
ven, for there will be no sin there. 

There will be no darkness in heaven for "There 
shall be no night there". 

There will be shouting in heaven and it will be 
like the sound of many waters. 

There will be praising in heaven. "And I heard 
as it were the voice of a great multitude and as the 
voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thun- 

162 The School Of The Prophets 

derings, Allelulia ! for the Lord God omnipotent reign- 
eth !" 

There will be singing in heaven. "And they sang 
as it were a new song". Saints and angels will join in 
the loud hosannas to Him who sitteth upon the throne 
while the melodious music from the harps of gold will 
harmonize with the "song of Moses the servant of 
God and the song of the lamb", till the flood of song 
shall swell to the sublimest heights of the glory world. 

There will be recognition in Heaven. "Then shall 
I know, even as also I am known". "Many shall come 
from the east and from the west and shall sit down 
with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of hea- 

There will be a great reversal of human appraisal 
in heaven. "The last shall be first and the first, last." 
There is an obvious reason for that. God looks at the 
heart, we look at externals only. God knows the mo- 
tives of men, we do not. God will judge men accord- 
ing to what they are, we judge them according to what 
they seem to be. It may be that many who live here 
in obscurity, shunned by the elite and scorned by the 
self-righteous, shall have washed their robes and made 
them white in the blood of the Lamb and shall shine 
as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for- 
ever and ever. 

In heaven the world's standards of human worth 
will have been ground to fine powder and cast upon 
the dark waters of the River Error that flows onward 
and downward to the Land of Oblivion. For if these 
standards were retained, heaven would be no longer 
heaven, but hell. The brutal despot who had drenched 
the earth in blood of his own kindred to enhance his 

The School Of The Prophets 163 

own glory would be acclaimed a mighty prince. The 
rich man who had filled his coffers at the price of the 
cries and tears of widows and orphans would be courted 
by a fawning multitude. All the hideous frauds and 
veneered sham, all the sickly, silly jargon of a distor- 
ted and distracted conception of music, art and en- 
tertainment; all the raw crudeness of money-bought 
statesmanship, all the indolence of affluence and the 
bigotry of rank and the intolerance of class, would pol- 
lute the atmosphere of heaven, tarnish its golden 
streets and destroy the harmony of its music. Para- 
dise would become the possession of Pluto and the 
Christ of heaven would be dragged from his throne. 

But in heaven "The Lord reigneth, let the people 
tremble". "As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways, saith the 
Lord." Not the rich man in his palace, but the beggar 
who lay at his gate ; not Nero, but the slaves whom 
he cast to his lions ; not the broad phylacteries of self 
righteousness, but the "God be merciful to me, a sin- 
ner", of the Publican ; not the wagging heads of de- 
rision, but the repenting thief on the cross ; not the 
slave driver, but the slave, not the gift of abundance, 
but the two mites of penury will receive the applause 
of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

"But thanks be unto God who giveth us the vic- 
tory through our Lord Jesus Chris-t" there is a "great 
meeting just ahead". 

There is a happy land far, far aivay, 
Where saints in glory stand, fairer than day. 

There ten thousand times, ten thousand and thou- 
sands of thousands will gather. There once again we 

164 The School Of The Prophets 

shall clasp hands with those we loved in the long ago. 
There the poor will be rich and the slave will be free, 
the dumb will sing and the blind will see, the deaf ear 
will be unstopped and the lame man will leap as the 

But above all and best of all, we shall cast our 
crowns at the feet of the king in his beauty who was 
dead and is alive for evermore, shouting "worthy is 
the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches 
and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and 
blessing". And the meeting will never adjourn. Then 
shall we sing as we have never sung before, "What 
wondrous love is this, my soul, my soul !" 

No setting sun, no fading ray 

In that fair land of perfect day; 

No falling leaf, no drooping flower, 

No clouded sky, no parting hour. 

No sobbing heart, no weary sigh, 

No sorrow there, no tearful eye; 

In that bright home joy reigns supreme, 

Each breath a song and love the theme. 

No taint of sin, no sad farewell; 

There with the Lord his ransomed dwell. 

Dear Savior, bring us safely there 

To see thy face thy beauty wear.